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, 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 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 . It was not until CBS showed The Wizard of Oz 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 »
Duke of Buckingham:
And is it thus? Repays he my deep services/ With such contempt? Made I him King for this?/ O let me think on Hastings
[who has been beheaded]
Duke of Buckingham:
and let me be gone/ To Richmond, while my fearful head is on.
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Most of the film's credits are shown at the end. The opening credits show only the title of the film, Shakespeare's name, and the names of the main actors. See more »
It's quite a gap that Laurence Olivier covers between his portrayal of heroic Henry V and the evil Richard III. But he certainly does cover it well.
In fact this production boasts the talents of five knighted thespians in its cast, Olivier as Richard, John Gielgud as Clarence, Ralph Richardson as Buckingham, Cedric Hardwicke as Edward IV and Stanley Baker as the Earl of Richmond. That is probably some kind of record.
Once seen you will not forget the heavily made up Olivier with a shylock type nose and hunchbacked form. Unlike in Henry V and in Hamlet the title character's soliliquys are delivered straight to the audience rather than in voice-over. I think Olivier like Shakespeare wanted to emphasize the evilness of Richard as opposed to the tormenting doubts that Henry and Hamlet suffer. No doubts here, he's got his evil course well planned and he's very matter of factly telling his audience what's in store.
Of course when Shakespeare wrote this he was gearing up the Tudor dynasty propaganda machine. Stanley Baker's Earl of Richmond becomes Henry VII grandfather of the Queen whose patronage Shakespeare enjoyed. It was in Tudor family interest to blacken Richard's name to support their own dynastic claims. There have been several plausible theories put forth to claim the murders of Edward V and his brother were done by others.
One guy who in all the stories about Richard III who gets a whitewash is the Duke of Clarence. As portrayed by John Gielgud, Clarence is an innocent sacrificed in Richard's march for the throne. Actually Clarence was quite the schemer himself. He was in communication with Louis XI of France looking for aid in some plotting he was doing. Edward IV overlooked an incredible amount of treachery with him.
One very big flaw is that the film opens with Edward IV being restored to the throne again in 1471 and he has his son with him. Edward IV died in 1483 and the sons have not aged a mite. I believe they were 12 and 9 when they were put to death in the Tower of London in 1483. I'm surprised Olivier had that in his film.
Still and all it's a fabulous production and one should never miss a chance of seeing all that acting nobility in one film.
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