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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
Sir Laurence Olivier used long takes throughout this movie to allow the actors and actresses to build their scenes more theatrically. His opening soliloquy was shot in one nine-minute take. When he almost dropped the King's crown in the first scene, rather than re-shoot, he used the accident to create a motif for the movie. 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 »
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 »
SPOILER: The 139-minute version omits the entire second half of Clarence's (John Gielgud) speech in the prison cell. The 139-minute version is also edited so that it appears to a viewer unfamiliar with either the play or the film that Richard had nothing to do with Edward IV's death. See more »
Excellent Version of the Play, With Olivier & More
This excellent production of "Richard III" features a terrific performance by Laurence Olivier in the lead role, plus a fine supporting cast, good color photography, and plenty of color and pageantry to set off the action. Richard III can be one of Shakespeare's most entertaining plays when it is done well, and this version does full justice to this classic play. It's especially enjoyable if you get the restored widescreen version.
Olivier is unsurpassed at performing Shakespeare, keeping the balance between giving life to his characters while making sure that they remain part of the play as a whole, rather than drawing all the attention to himself. This might be the best of all his screen Shakespearean roles, since Richard gives him so much to work with, and also because he has such an accomplished supporting cast to complement his own performance. Playing Richard gives him a chance to be charming, devious, tyrannical, and more, and the role offers some choice solo speeches plus other scenes that have excellent give-and-take with the other characters.
The rest of the cast also deserves praise. Ralph Richardson is ideally cast as Buckingham, a character who is so important both to the plot and also to showing us what Richard himself is all about. The rest of the cast includes good performances from Cedric Hardwicke, John Gielgud, Claire Bloom, and others. Olivier's adaptation/revision of the script also works pretty well, maintaining the feel of the play while often highlighting scenes that make for particularly good cinema. It all makes this just what a movie version of Shakespeare should be.
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