Omnibus (1952–1961)
10 user 6 critic

King Lear 

An old king, stepping down from the throne, disinherits his favorite daughter on a mad whim and gives his kingdom to his two older daughters, both of whom prove treacherous.


Andrew McCullough


Peter Brook (teleplay), William Shakespeare (play)

On Disc

at Amazon




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Orson Welles ... King Lear (segment)
Natasha Parry ... Cordelia (segment)
Arnold Moss ... Duke of Albany (segment)
Bramwell Fletcher ... Earl of Kent (segment)
David J. Stewart David J. Stewart ... Oswald (segment)
Margaret Phillips ... Regan (segment)
Beatrice Straight ... Goneril (segment)
Alan Badel ... Fool (segment)
Micheál MacLiammóir ... Poor Tom (segment) (as Micheal MacLiammoir)
Frederick Worlock ... Earl of Gloucester (segment)
Scott Forbes ... Duke of Cornwall (segment)
Wesley Addy ... King of France (segment)
Fred Sadoff Fred Sadoff ... Duke of Burgundy (segment)
Lloyd Bochner ... First Gentleman (segment)
Chris Gampel Chris Gampel ... First Servant (segment)


Based on Shakespeare's play: King Lear of Britain has decided to divide his kingdom into three parts, and to hand over the responsibilities of ruling to his three daughters. The two oldest daughters, Goneril and Regan, flatter their father insincerely, and are rewarded. Cordelia, the youngest, sincerely loves her father, but she cannot match her sisters' skill at false adulation - so Lear takes away her portion of the kingdom, despite the pleadings of some of his most loyal nobles. It is not long before Goneril and Regan reveal their deep ingratitude, and soon the old king finds himself in a confusing and desperate position. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History | Music


Not Rated

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

18 October 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El rey Lear See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

CBS,Ford Foundation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Television debut of Orson Welles. See more »


Orson Welles reverses the wording of one line in Act IV, Scene vii. Instead of "You have some cause, they have not," Welles says, "They have some cause, you have not," which completely reverses the meaning of the line. See more »


Version of Koning Lear (1969) See more »

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User Reviews

Worthwhile Despite Omissions & Low-Budget Look
24 May 2004 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

This version of "King Lear" is worth seeing despite a low-budget look and some significant omissions from the original play. Orson Welles could do as much as anyone could with limited resources, and the rest of the cast perform their parts well enough - which is important, because the acting really has to carry this version almost by itself.

The concise version of the story about Lear and his daughters, which may have been affected by broadcasting constraints, leaves out some interesting and important characters who are meant to complement the main part of the story. Likewise, it probably could have been much more absorbing if they had devoted just a little more time and expenditure on the meager sets. Still, the main story is more than adequate when it is told well, and Welles always gives a distinctive interpretation to a weighty character like Lear.

Overall, this cannot be considered as one of the very best filmed versions of the play, since the accommodations made for television are all too obvious. But it is worth seeing, as it brings out the most important ideas in the play, and has some strengths of its own.

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