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 »
Henry V was said to be Laurence Olivier's greatest screen role for British Propaganda reasons... he inspired England etc. during World War 2; there is no denying it, his Henry is brilliant. But he surpasses his own genius as Richard.
"Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York" just seeing Richard's stooped, deformed figure hobble to the camera like some monstrous spider; to hear those bitter words delivered with such articulate power, and to be penetrated by that stony, constant glare is enough to know that this is no ordinary actor... this is a thespian whose legend will leave generations and generations of actors to come hopeless (teeth gritted) Whatever people say, Kenneth Brannagh will NOT be the next Laurence Olivier!!!
This movie has a fantastic cast: get this! Ralph Richardson AND John Geilgud AND Claire Bloom! Claire Bloom is especially exquisite and I think she plays the soulfully lamenting Lady Anne to perfection. Her scenes with Olivier are great; there is such agitation and irony between the two. I especially like it when he woos her by her husband's tomb... just goes to show how even in a tyrannical role Olivier can still steal a woman's heart with his irresistible seductiveness. She is beautiful and a most accomplished actress; I wonder why she is not better known... is Richard the only Shakespeare film she did????
Geilgud is wonderful as the doomed Clarence, done to death by the scheming Richard; my only disappointment was in Buckingham, played by Ralph Richardson. Richardson left me with a completely wrong impression of Buckingham, who (or so I learn from the play) is not all that different in character from Richard; but is scheming and devious also. Sad to say, (and I have read Olivier admits it so himself) Richardson was cast wrongly as the Duke of Buckingham... he acts too innocent and unsuspecting.
I must also give a technical comment on the camera angle; I would have preferred to be nearer Olivier at some parts of his scenes... that said, I must say I liked the scenes theatrical as such... why are other reviewers always moaning about the costumes and the settings? The costumes I liked, the settings I liked, the music by william walton was great (olivier had good taste in music though he was definitely not a musician himself) and really suited the swiftly changing reflective to agitated moods of the characters.
That said, I believe Laurence Olivier's Richard III to be (with perhaps the exception of his Henry V) the most worthily majestic film ever made in England. The greatest of course, would have been to see such a master of his incandescent talent on stage as Richard since Olivier was finest on stage live, but to be realistic, there is not much of his stage performances recorded, if any, and to be left this masterpiece that Shakespeare himself would have been proud to see performed, is a tribute to the most incredible actor of this century, and most probably, of all time.
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