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The Merchant of Venice is a 1973 British television production of William Shakespeare's classic play about love, money-lenders and the prejudice towards Jews. Director John Sichel places the action in England of the early 1900s. Bassanio (Jeremy Brett) needs money to pursue his lady-love Portia (Joan Plowright). Unfortunately, he has lost most of his family fortune. He asks his merchant friend, Antonio (Anthony Nicholls), for a loan. Antonio has all his money tied up momentarily, so offers to be a guarantor if Bassanio can find a lender. Shylock (Laurence Olivier), a Jewish lender, with a long simmering dislike of Antonio, will provide the money as long as one condition is included -- if the debt cannot be paid on time, he demands a pound of Antonio's flesh as repayment. The arrangement leads to a dramatic courtroom showdown between the bitter Shylock and Bassanio's fianc'', Portia, in one of Shakespeare's most cited scenes.