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Henry V (1944) Poster

(1944)

Trivia

The filming of a battle scene was stopped in order for the company to watch whilst overhead a group of British fighters attacked a formation of German bombers on their way to bomb London. When the real battle passed out of sight, the movie battle resumed filming.
The most significant cuts to the text - the ones which generally provoke criticism at Henry as a king - were reputedly made at Winston Churchill's request.
Partly intended as a wartime morale-booster for the British. Certain parts of the play were consequently omitted, such as Henry's hanging of a friend as an example of firm justice.
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As a tribute to his abilities as a director, and uncertain over his own unproved directing abilities, Laurence Olivier originally invited William Wyler, who had directed Olivier in Wuthering Heights (1939), to direct. It was Wyler whom Olivier always credited with teaching him how to give a more subtle performance in films and with giving him more respect for the art of acting in film. Wyler, however, declined, saying, "If it's Shakespeare, it must be you [who directs the film]". Carol Reed and Ralph Richardson told him the same thing.
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Many of the sets used for scenes in France (not including the battle scenes) are based on medieval illustrated texts such as the "Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry". The producers attempted to recreate the flawed perspectives and stylised architecture, leading to a distinctly unrealistic look to the sets.
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Laurence Olivier's then wife, Vivien Leigh, very much wanted to play Katherine, but David O. Selznick would not let her out of her contract with Selznick International Pictures, feeling that the role was much too small for an actress of her cache. Leigh never forgave Selznick, and never worked for him again.
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The opening model shot of London was huge - 50 x 70 feet in size and made of plaster. It took 4 months to construct.
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The majority of the film, including the Battle of Agincourt, was filmed in Ireland where cast and crew could be safe from nightly Luftwaffe raids (Ireland was a neutral country in the Second World War).
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The first Technicolor film ever made of a Shakespeare play.
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The only lines in the film not written by Shakespeare are spoken by Pistol at the end of the Boar's Head scene: "Farewell, farewell, divine Zenocrate/Is it not passing brave to be a king/And ride in triumph through Persepolis!" They are from "Tamburlaine the Great" by Shakespeare's contemporary, Christopher Marlowe.
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The decision to start the film as a stage production was made to help audiences attune to the Shakespearean dialog.
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Following the death of Renée Asherson (Princess Katherine) on October 30, 2014, George Cole (The Boy) became the last surviving cast member of the film. Cole died on August 5, 2015.
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Because wartime rationing made supplies of metal scarce, all the chain mail armor in the movie was actually made of handknitted grey wool.
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Due to the absence of trained stunt men, Laurence Olivier had to do his own stunts as well as showing almost every Irish extra how to do their stunts (this resulted in him suffering many injuries including fractured shoulders).
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As he lies dying, the lines that Falstaff speaks aloud and the ones that he hears in his mind are not from "Henry V". They are from Shakespeare's "Henry IV: Part II".
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John Gielgud asked Laurence Olivier to cast him as the Chorus in the film but Olivier declined, offering him the lesser role of the King of France instead. Gielgud turned down the offer.
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Laurence Olivier agreed not to appear in a film for 18 months to encourage this one to attract as large an audience as possible and in return was paid £15,000 tax-free, about £460,000 in today's money.
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This had the longest title of any Academy Award nominated film.
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When Vivien Leigh, originally slated to play Katherine of France, was forced to give up the role, Renée Asherson replaced her because she was exactly the same size as Leigh and therefore the costumes didn't have to be altered to fit her.
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The French royalty depicted here was supposed to reflect the attitude towards the Nazis at the time - arrogant, uncivilized and rude.
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The oldest member of the cast, George Robey, was born in 1869, 75 years before the production. Robey also played what was probably intended to be the oldest character, Falstaff.
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Due to privations brought about by the war, most of the costumes and weaponry were made from clothing scraps and with wood painted silver.
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The full title of the play as first published in the "First Quarto" text (August 1600) was: "The Cronicle History of Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France. Togither with Auntient Pistoll" The full title as rendered on the title card at the beginning of this 1944 film production was: "THE Chronicle History of KING HENRY THE FIFT with his battell fought at Agincourt in France BY Will Shakespeare"
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Princess Katherine was approximately 14 years old at the time of The Battle of Agincourt, however, Renée Asherson was approximately 29 years old at the time of production of the film, more than twice the age of the real life character Asherson was portraying.
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Max Adrian, who portrayed Louis The Dauphin was 41 years old at time of production, whilst the real life character he portrayed was only 18 years old on October 25, 1415, the date of the Battle of Agincourt.
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Laurence Olivier was 36 when he tackled this challenging production.
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Filmed with a budget of $2 million, making it the most expensive British production at the time.
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Many of the 'casts of thousands' extras were servicemen, and it is said that you can tell the American servicemen as they wear their helmets at a jaunty angle.
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As a secondary title card, the 1944 film shows: "will be played by The Lord Chamberlain's Men AT THE GLOBE PLAYHOUSE THIS DAY The FIRST of May 1600" Title page of the August 1600 edition of Shakespeare's Henry V, often called the "Bad Quarto" was printed as follows: "As it hath bene fundry times playd by the Right honorable the Lord Chamberlaine his fervants." (bene = been, fundry = sundry, playd = played, fervants = servants)
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This film was the first filmed appearance by an uncredited Anthony Newley, who was 12 years old at the time of production, making him the youngest member of the cast by approximately four years.
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Although this film was based on a work of fiction, the play it was derived from was based on historical facts, and of the 37 credited characters, at least 16 were real people, known to exist as notable historical figures.
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The film was shot on location at the Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland. Many of the interior sets and some of the exterior sets were constructed at Denham Studios, Buckinghamshire, UK. Those sets were based on illustrations made or commissioned by one of the 16 historical real people (above) in Shakespeare's Henry V, John, Duke of Berry (referred to only as the Duke of Berry in the play), in his catalogue of illustrations, "Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry."
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This is the only one of the three Laurence Olivier-directed Shakespeare films in which the full title of the play was used in the opening credits.
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The government commissioned Laurence Olivier to make a film that would prove inspiring to the beleaguered British people who were then suffering through their 5th year of war with Germany.
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This was Roy Emerton's final film before his death on November 30, 1944, only eight days after the film was released, at the age of 51.
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The film takes place in 1415.
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Charlton Heston stated that this was his favorite film.
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The availability of extras for the battle scenes was one of the main reasons why Laurence Olivier decided to film the Agincourt sequence in Ireland. Due to the war, there was a huge shortage of able bodied men in the UK. Irish civil servants were offered time off to work on the movie.
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Part of the reason Ireland was chosen as a location was that it was a neutral power during World War II, thus outdoor shooting would not be disturbed by aerial warfare. However, there was one day during which the imaginary war had to be put on hold as an RAF squadron flew overhead on their way to battle.
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This was Michael Warre's first film.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Leslie Banks had previously appeared with Laurence Olivier in Fire Over England (1937).
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Felix Aylmer had previously appeared with Laurence Olivier in As You Like It (1936), and would subsequently appear in Hamlet (1948).
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Esmond Knight, who plays the patriotic Welsh soldier Fluellen was a wounded veteran of the war. He had been badly injured in 1941 while on active service on board HMS Prince of Wales when she was attacked by the Bismarck, and remained totally blind for two years. He had only just regained some sight in his right eye.
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Hundreds of locals were hired as extras for the Agincourt battle scenes filmed in neutral Ireland in 1943. The production company paid an additional pound to anyone who brought his own horse.
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A section of the track "The Battle of Agincourt" were used by the BBC for their Election Night Result programme in 1959 and 1964.
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Due to its high production cost and Entertainment Tax it did not go into profit for Rank until 1949.
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In 2007, Military History Magazine listed this production 75th among "The 100 Greatest War Movies."
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This is widely considered the first Shakespeare film to be both artistically and commercially successful.
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Terence Young was allegedly asked to direct.
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Renée Asherson, would later freely admit that she got the part because she could fit into the costumes that had already been made for Vivien Leigh.
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The ten-minute battle scene took six weeks to film.
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The film was meant to cost £350,000 but ended up costing nearly £500,000.
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