The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944) Poster


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.
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", to direct "Henry V". 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]".
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.
Laurence Olivier's then wife, Vivian 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.
The first Technicolor film ever made of a Shakespeare play.
The French royalty depicted here was supposed to reflect the attitude towards the Nazis at the time - arrogant, uncivilized and rude.
The filming of a battle scene was stopped in order for the company to watch while 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.
Because wartime rationing made supplies of metal scarce, all the chain mail armor in the movie was actually made of handknitted grey wool.
Laurence Olivier was 37 when he tackled this challenging production.
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).
Due to privations brought about by the war, most of the costumes and weaponry were made from clothing scraps and with wood painted silver.
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".
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.
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.
This is the only one of the three Olivier-directed Shakespeare films in which the full title of the play was used in the opening credits.
Movie with the longest title to ever receive an Oscar-nomination.
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.
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.
The decision to start the film as a stage production was made to help audiences attune to the Shakespearean dialog.
Filmed with a budget of $2 million, making it the most expensive British production at the time.
Due to the absence of trained stunt men, 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).
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.
The opening model shot of London was huge - 50 x 70 feet in size and made of plaster. It took 4 months to construct.
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"
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)
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.
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.
This film was the first filmed appearance of Michael Warre, who portrayed the Duke of Gloucester.
Max Adrian, who portrayed Louis The Dauphin was 41 years old at time of production, while the real life character he portrayed was only 18 years old on October 25, 1415, the date of the Battle of Agincourt.
This film was the first filmed appearance by Anthony Newley (although uncredited), who was approximately aged 12-13 at time of production, the last born/youngest member of the cast by approximately 4 years.
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.
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."
The government commissioned 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.
Renee Asherson replaced Vivien Leigh.
John Gielgud asked 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.
Final film of Roy Emerton.

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