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Richard's military skills have helped to put his older brother Edward on the throne of England. But jealousy and resentment cause Richard to seek the crown for himself, and he conceives a lengthy and carefully calculated plan using deception, manipulation, and outright murder to achieve his goal. His plotting soon has tumultuous consequences, both for himself and for England. Written by
The first film to have its U.S. premiere in theaters and on TV simultaneously. This occurred on the afternoon of 11 March 1956, when NBC-TV broadcast the film on the same day it had its U.S. premiere in New York. (It had already had its world premiere and first run in London in 1955.) The telecast was the longest single presentation of a film or play (three hours counting the commercials) ever shown on TV up to that time. Classic British films presented by J. Arthur Rank, such as Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), had already made their network TV debuts on an ABC-TV program titled "Famous Film Festival", but many of these were either drastically cut to fit a ninety-minute time slot or shown in two parts. Walt Disney had already begun, on his Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1954) TV program, to telecast some of his theatrical films, but these were shown in two or more one-hour segments, one segment per week, or edited down to one hour, as in the case of Alice in Wonderland (1951) . It was not until CBS showed The Wizard of Oz (1939) in 1956, that an uncut, full-length theatrical film was shown on network TV during prime time in one evening. See more »
For one shot at the end during the battle scene, right around the famous "My kingdom for a horse!" line, Richard's left hand has all five fingers. During the rest of the movie, Richard only has three fingers on his left hand as part of the character's deformities. See more »
Excellent Version of the Play, With Olivier & More
This excellent production of "Richard III" features a terrific performance by Laurence Olivier in the lead role, plus a fine supporting cast, good color photography, and plenty of color and pageantry to set off the action. Richard III can be one of Shakespeare's most entertaining plays when it is done well, and this version does full justice to this classic play. It's especially enjoyable if you get the restored widescreen version.
Olivier is unsurpassed at performing Shakespeare, keeping the balance between giving life to his characters while making sure that they remain part of the play as a whole, rather than drawing all the attention to himself. This might be the best of all his screen Shakespearean roles, since Richard gives him so much to work with, and also because he has such an accomplished supporting cast to complement his own performance. Playing Richard gives him a chance to be charming, devious, tyrannical, and more, and the role offers some choice solo speeches plus other scenes that have excellent give-and-take with the other characters.
The rest of the cast also deserves praise. Ralph Richardson is ideally cast as Buckingham, a character who is so important both to the plot and also to showing us what Richard himself is all about. The rest of the cast includes good performances from Cedric Hardwicke, John Gielgud, Claire Bloom, and others. Olivier's adaptation/revision of the script also works pretty well, maintaining the feel of the play while often highlighting scenes that make for particularly good cinema. It all makes this just what a movie version of Shakespeare should be.
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