Edit
Hamlet (1948) Poster

(1948)

Trivia

Jump to: Spoilers (2)
One of the William Shakespeare purists who criticized this shorn-down version of the play was Ethel Barrymore, who complained that it wasn't as faithful as the stage version produced on Broadway in 1922, in which her brother John Barrymore played Hamlet. Ethel Barrymore was the presenter of the Best Picture Oscar at the Academy Awards that year and was visibly shaken when she read out Sir Laurence Olivier's name as the winner.
42 of 42 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
This was the first British or non-American movie to win the Oscar for Best Picture.
39 of 39 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
When the movie was released, Sir Laurence Olivier said it had been filmed in black and white for artistic reasons. The true reason, as he later admitted, was that "I was in the middle of a furious row with Technicolor".
32 of 32 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The first English sound movie version of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet".
26 of 26 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
With this movie, Sir Laurence Olivier became the first person ever to direct himself to a Best Actor or Actress Oscar. Roberto Benigni in Life Is Beautiful (1997) is the only other actor to achieve this feat.
35 of 36 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Sir Laurence Olivier was forty-one when this movie was released. Eileen Herlie, who played Hamlet's mother Gertrude, was thirty. Herlie also played Gertrude on Broadway in 1964 with Richard Burton's Hamlet (1964), which was filmed and shown in a limited release. Whereas she was eleven years younger than her "son" when Hamlet was played by Olivier, she was seven years older than Burton.
23 of 23 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Greatly influenced by the inventive camera effects that Orson Welles and Gregg Toland pioneered in Citizen Kane (1941), and by the psychological reinterpretations of the play that were being floated at the time.
23 of 23 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Ethel Barrymore, whose late younger brother John Barrymore was considered the great Hamlet of the twentieth century along with that of Sir John Gielgud, denounced Sir Laurence Olivier and his movie. Ironically, Olivier's Hamlet had been influenced by Barrymore, whose Hamlet he had seen in London.
21 of 21 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Stanley Holloway was a last-minute choice. The actor who was supposed to play the grave digger, F.J. McCormick, died shortly before filming.
18 of 18 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
This is the only movie version of "Hamlet" that entirely omits the characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Sir Laurence Olivier was severely criticized for leaving them out of the movie, as they provide many opportunities for Hamlet to behave in a sarcastically humorous way toward them, and many felt that Olivier probably would have played these moments brilliantly. However, Olivier did retain a few of Guildenstern's lines ("put your discourse into some frame", et cetera) and gave them to Polonius.
18 of 18 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Sir Laurence Olivier played the voice of Hamlet's father's ghost by recording the dialogue and playing it back at a reduced speed, giving it a macabre quality. The role is often erroneously reported as being performed by Sir John Gielgud, perhaps because it does sound vaguely like him, but it has been said that Olivier actually disliked working with Gielgud in William Shakespeare movies, and turned down his request to play the Chorus in Henry V (1944). Gielgud later played the Ghost in Hamlet (1964) and ITV Sunday Night Theatre: Hamlet (1970).
18 of 18 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Because they wanted to aim at a wider public in this movie than they had in Henry V (1944), Sir Laurence Olivier and text adaptor Alan Dent modernized and/or clarified several obscure phrases in the play: "The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn" became "The cock, that is the herald to the morn", "recks not his own rede" became "minds not his own creed", "In the same figure, like the King that's dead" became "in the same figure, like the dead King Hamlet", and "It may be, very like" became "It may be, very likely", among others.
18 of 18 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
This was the first of twenty-four movies in which Sir Christopher Lee (Spear Carrier) and Peter Cushing (Osric) both appeared.
18 of 18 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
According to a book written in 1948, many actresses refused the role of Hamlet's mother because of age concerns.
17 of 17 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The supporting character of Ophelia Frump in The Addams Family (1964), played by Carolyn Jones in a dual role with Morticia Addams, is a specific spoof of Jean Simmons' Ophelia from this movie version of Hamlet.
15 of 15 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Initially, Sir Laurence Olivier was not keen on producing "Hamlet". Although he wanted to repeat the success of Henry V (1944), he found that the Danish play was the only really viable choice, as Orson Welles had just done Macbeth (1948) and was prepping Othello (1951). By casting himself in the lead, however, he was able to secure the necessary financing.
14 of 14 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Sir Laurence Olivier didn't attend the Academy Awards ceremony in which he won two Oscars as he was performing in a play in London at the time with his wife, Vivien Leigh.
18 of 19 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The play probably opened no later than 1601 in London, with William Shakespeare himself playing the part of the Ghost and Richard Burbage playing Hamlet. It was first published in 1602 with the title "The Tragical History of Hamlet Prince of Denmark", but that version was probably based on reports of speeches as delivered on-stage, and bears little resemblance to modern versions. Modern texts are based more on the second version published in 1604 and a version published in 1623, each containing lines not in the other's text.
16 of 17 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Desmond Dickinson had a very maneuverable camera dolly specially made for this movie with Pneumatic tires. It was the first of its kind in England.
10 of 10 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The first movie to win both the Academy Award for best picture and the Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Award for best picture.
15 of 16 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, a minor character in the play, does not appear in this movie. Some of his lines were given to Horatio.
13 of 14 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Eileen Herlie reprised her role as Gertrude in Hamlet (1964).
8 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
With the death of Sir Christopher Lee on June 7, 2015, Patrick Macnee became the last surviving cast member of this movie. Macnee died eighteen days later.
19 of 22 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Vivien Leigh, who was married to Sir Laurence Olivier at the time, wanted to play Ophelia, but Olivier felt she was too famous, and cast the relatively unknown Jean Simmons instead.
7 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Claire Bloom auditioned for the role of Ophelia. She later played the Lady Anne in Richard III (1955), Sir Laurence Olivier's third and final William Shakespeare movie as director.
10 of 11 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Patrick Troughton (The Player King) previously played Horatio in Hamlet Part 1 (1947), and Patrick Macnee (Extra) played Laertes in the same production.
9 of 10 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
At $2 million, this was a very expensive production in its day.
12 of 15 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Theatrical movie debut of Terence Morgan (Laertes).
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
In retrospect, many cinephiles believe that The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) would have been the rightful winner of the Best Picture Oscar. At the time, however, John Huston's win for Best Director was considered an upset, as Sir Laurence Olivier was primed to be a triple crown winner, having captured two statuettes for his performance and his production.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Four of the actors in this movie had roles in the Hammer Films Production's "Mummy" film franchise: Felix Aylmer (Polonius), Peter Cushing (Osric), and Sir Christopher Lee (Spear Carrier) played Stephen Banning, his son John Banning, and Kharis the Mummy, respectively in The Mummy (1959), and Terence Morgan (Laertes) played Adam Beauchamp in The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964).
7 of 10 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The first of only two Best Picture winners to feature a ghost or ghosts.
9 of 14 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
With this movie, then three time Best Actor Oscar nominee Sir Laurence Olivier became the first Best Actor nominee to be nominated for Best Director, as well as the first Best Actor nominee to direct a Best Picture nominee (and winner). He also became the first Best Actor nominee to win the the Best Actor Academy Award for the first time from his fourth nomination.
4 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #82.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
This movie featured two actors who played Professor Van Helsing in adaptations of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel "Dracula": Peter Cushing (Osric) played him in Horror of Dracula (1958), The Brides of Dracula (1960), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974); and Sir Laurence Olivier (Hamlet) played him in Dracula (1979).
6 of 10 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Two of the five Best Picture nominees were from Great Britain, this movie and The Red Shoes (1948), a preview of things to come during the "British Invasion" that began in 1963, wherein British-made movies began to dominate the Academy Awards for much of the next decade.
3 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year not to be nominated in any of the writing categories.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year to be also nominated for Best Costume Design (Black and White).
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
This adaptation of Hamlet includes two actors who've played Doctor Who/The Doctor. Patrick Troughton played the Second "Doctor" from 1966 until 1969, and Peter Cushing played The Doctor in the non-canon "Doctor Who" movies based upon the stories from the First Doctor. William Shakespeare himself been portrayed as a character in Doctor Who: The Executioners (1965) and Doctor Who: The Shakespeare Code (2007).
3 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Credited theatrical movie debut of Sir Anthony Quayle (Marcellus).
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
Cast members Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, in addition to their numerous collaborations, also both appeared in the Star Wars films, as Grand Moff Tarkin and Count Dooku, respectively. In this film, Cushing plays Osric. In John Gielgud's first stage production of Hamlet, he cast a young Alec Guinness in that part. Cushing and Guinness appeared together in the first Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
0 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The final scene to be filmed was the famous shot of Sir Laurence Olivier jumping off a high tower onto Claudius and killing him, because it was considered to be so dangerous that it was feared that Olivier would injure himself too badly performing the stunt to film any other scenes. Olivier emerged uninjured from the leap, but the stuntman doubling as Claudius was knocked out from the impact and lost two teeth.
29 of 30 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink
The scene of Ophelia drowning shows her floating down the river with flowers strewn over her dress and around her body, rendering the scene thus reminiscent of the 1851-2 painting "Ophelia" by Sir John Everett Millais.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook   |  Twitter   |  Permalink

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page


Recently Viewed