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 failure of this movie to earn a profit in the U.S. during its theatrical release, together with the untimely death of Alexander Korda, who had backed the production of this movie, effectively ended Laurence Olivier's dream of filming William Shakespeare as a director. He is accorded the honor of being the greatest Macbeth of the 20th century, but he could never raise the financing to make the movie after the financial failure of this one. Mike Todd expressed interest in financing an Olivier version of "Macbeth", but Todd was killed in a plane crash before those ideas could come to fruition. Olivier never again directed a Shakespearean movie, possibly the result of the fabled actors' curse attached to "The Scottish Play". See more »
When Richard and Buckingham are standing over Edward IV's deathbed, and Buckingham says 'To part the Queen's proud kindred from the princes', Ralph Richardson's lips are out of sync. 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, William Shakespeare's name, and the names of the main actors. See more »
Released in Great Britain at 155 minutes; some of the prints released in the USA are 139 minutes. 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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