Richard III

Richard III

4.6 5
Director: Laurence Olivier, Cedric Hardwicke, John Gielgud, Nicholas Hannen

Cast: Laurence Olivier, Cedric Hardwicke, John Gielgud, Nicholas Hannen


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In an interview included on this set's supplementary disc, Laurence Olivier confesses that he never knew a more exciting creative experience than directing a feature film, and this DVD edition of his sterling 1955 adaptation of William Shakespeare's Richard III captures not only a handful of superb performances but Olivier's obvious enthusiasm for the cinematic


In an interview included on this set's supplementary disc, Laurence Olivier confesses that he never knew a more exciting creative experience than directing a feature film, and this DVD edition of his sterling 1955 adaptation of William Shakespeare's Richard III captures not only a handful of superb performances but Olivier's obvious enthusiasm for the cinematic medium. The Criterion Collection has given Richard III a letterboxed transfer to disc in the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.66:1, which is also enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16 x 9 monitors, and the picture is sharp and well-detailed with the Technicolor tonal palate rendered with a pleasing subtlety. While the booklet mentions that the elements for this transfer where drawn from a number of sources to assemble a complete version of the film, the quality is consistently strong for the most part and never looks substandard. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono and sounds rich and clear. The film is, of course, in English with optional English-language subtitles for the hearing impaired but there are no multiple language options. Chief among the bonus materials is a commentary track from Russell Lees, who discusses Olivier's techniques as an actor and a filmmaker as well as Shakespeare's original text and various interpretations of it; John Wilders, former head of the Royal Shakespeare Company also interjects his thoughts on occasion. A bonus disc includes the original theatrical trailer for Richard III, a 12-minute television preview of the film including a behind-the-scenes look at its production, a gallery of production stills accompanied by relevant passages from Olivier's autobiography, and most enjoyably a 1966 television interview in which noted critic Kenneth Tynan questions Olivier about his career, offering a fascinating perspective on Olivier's approach to acting and his thoughts on film and the theater. Anyone who loves Shakespeare, great acting, and fine filmmaking will revel in Richard III, and Criterion is to be commended for bringing it to DVD with such obvious care.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mike Cummings
This 1955 film offers a rare boon, the opportunity to see three of the 20th century's greatest British actors -- Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud, and Sir Ralph Richardson -- acting together in the same production. Olivier, the director and star of Richard III, overarches the film in a portrayal of Richard that ranges from impishly wicked to fiendishly diabolical. Early on, he is perversely endearing. His hooked nose, his hunched back, and his halting gait make him a quaint sideshow. Later on, he is unabashedly horrifying. His serial murders of men, women, and children make him a grotesque main attraction that, curiously, still attracts as well as repels. We like Richard, for he is more audaciously sinister and wicked than the sum of all villains since Cain. He dares to do what we all would like to do to a haughty boss or a nincompoop neighbor, if we had no conscience. Often during his performance, Olivier turns away from his interlocutors and looks directly at the audience, confiding his inmost thoughts and feelings. This visual technique works well to establish a relationship with the audience. Gielgud and Richardson support Olivier with wonderful performances. Other distinguished British actors -- including Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Claire Bloom, and Stanley Baker -- also perform with savoir-faire. But the film is not perfect. Olivier sometimes takes unnecessary liberties with Shakespeare's text. Also, because the production was filmed in Technicolor, the reds and blues and yellows scream for attention in their vividness, often overpowering the importance of a dagger or a menacing smile. Nevertheless, Richard III is an extraordinary film that will likely survive the test of time.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital Mono]

Special Features

Closed Caption; New high-definition digital transfer, including newly discovered footage from the original theatrical release, with restored image and sound and enhanced for widescreen TVs; Audio commentary by playwright and stage director Russell Lees and John Wilders, former governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company; English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired; RSDL dual-layer edition for optimal image quality; 1966 BBC interview with Laurence Olivier hosted by renowned theater critic Kenneth Tynan; Gallery of on-set and production stills and posters, featuring excerpts from Olivier's autobiography "On Acting"; 12-minute TV trailer, including footage of Olivier, producer Alexander Korda, production designer Roger Furse, and other crew members at work in Shepperton Studios; Original theatrical trailer; Essay by film historian Bruce Eder

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Cedric Hardwicke Edward Plantagenet (King Edward IV)
Laurence Olivier Richard III
John Gielgud George, Duke of Clarence
Nicholas Hannen Archbishop of Canterbury
Claire Bloom Lady Anne Neville
Ralph Richardson Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham
Alec Clunes Thomas, Lord Hastings
Stanley Baker Henry Tudor
Mary Kerridge Elizabeth Woodville (Queen Elizabeth)
Pamela Brown Jane Shore
Paul Huston Edward, Prince of Wales
Russell Thorndike First Priest
Norman Fisher Monk
Andrew Cruickshank Brankenbury
Clive Morton Antony Woodville, Earl Rivers
Dan Cunningham Grey
Douglas Wilmer Marquess of Dorset
Michael Gough Dighton
Michael Ripper 2nd murderer
Roy Russell Abbot
George Woodbridge Lord Mayor of London
Esmond Knight Sir Richard Ratcliffe
John Laurie Lord Lovell
Peter Williams Messenger to Hastings
Timothy Bateson Ostler
Willoughby Gray Priest
Ann Wilton Scrub woman
Bill Shine Beadle
Deering Wells Clergyman
Richard Bennett George Stanley
Patrick Troughton James Tyrell
Brian Nissen 1st Messenger
Alexander Davion 2nd Messenger
Lane Meddick 3rd Messenger
Robert Bishop Messenger
John Greenwood Knight
Bernard Hepton Actor
Laurence Naismith Thomas, Lord Stanley
John Phillips John Howard, Duke of Norfolk
Derek Prentice Clergyman
Norman Wooland Sir William Catesby
Helen Haye Queen Mother

Technical Credits
Laurence Olivier Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Colley Cibber Screenwriter
Helga Cranston Editor
Alan Dent Screenwriter
Carmen Dillon Art Director
Roger Furse Production Designer
Otto Heller Cinematographer
Alexander Korda Co-producer
L&H Nathan Ltd. Costumes/Costume Designer
Muir Mathieson Musical Direction/Supervision
H. Nathan Costumes/Costume Designer
Tony Sforzini Makeup
Wally Veevers Special Effects
William Walton Score Composer

Scene Index

Side #1 -- Disc One
1. Opening Credits and Preamble [2:36]
2. Coronation of Edward IV [5:29]
3. "Now Is the Winter..." [5:10]
4. Gentle Lady Anne [5:58]
5. "I'll Have Her..." [1:17]
6. "Plots Had I Laid" [2:30]
7. Simple, Plain Clarence [2:44]
8. "Why Dost Thou Spit at Me?" [6:04]
9. "Was Ever Woman in This Humor Wooed?" [1:16]
10. Death Warrant for Clarence [2:34]
11. Clarence's Dream [5:19]
12. A Reprieve [3:34]
13. Deciding on an Heir [4:31]
14. Dream Come True [3:50]
15. King Edward's Bedside [2:57]
16. Richard's Good Spirits [7:44]
17. "To Sanctuary" [4:40]
18. Prince Edward's Arrival [4:04]
19. Heir to the Throne [3:06]
20. "Go We Unto the Tower" [3:01]
21. Enlisting Catesby [2:13]
22. Plots Afoot [6:29]
23. Council of the Crown [8:07]
24. Lord Mayor Takes a Ride [2:00]
25. Buckingham's Concoction [2:22]
26. "Two Props of Virtue" [6:51]
27. Richard's Royal Queen [3:54]
28. Coronation of Richard III [3:05]
29. Securing the Crown [8:02]
30. "Thus Lay the Gentle Babes" [2:31]
31. Stanley Consorts With Buckingham [:33]
32. News of Richmond [4:39]
33. Bosworth Field [2:29]
34. Richmond [2:49]
35. Eve of Battle [3:36]
36. Ghosts of Victims Past [5:14]
37. Battle of Bosworth Field [7:20]
38. "My Kingdom for a Horse" [2:56]
39. Stanley Crowns Richmond [4:05]
1. Shakespeare's Richard III [2:36]
2. Family Politics [5:29]
3. Olivier's Richard [5:10]
4. Seduction of Lady Anne [5:58]
5. Cinematic Writing [1:17]
6. The Vice Character [2:30]
7. Gielgud and Olivier [2:44]
8. Use of Verse [6:04]
9. Poetic Devices [1:16]
10. Connection to Henry VI [2:34]
11. Sir John Gielgud [5:19]
12. Past Relations [3:34]
13. Shakespeare on Screen [4:31]
14. "Humor of the Murderers" [3:50]
15. Wars of the Roses [2:57]
16. Absence of Queen Margaret [7:44]
17. Legend of Richard III [4:40]
18. The History Play [4:04]
19. Machiavelli [3:06]
20. The Good Uncle [3:01]
21. Richardson as Buckingham [2:13]
22. "Super-True" [6:29]
23. Power Politics [8:07]
24. "Old Boy Network of Evil" [2:00]
25. Richardson and Olivier [2:22]
26. Play Within a Play [6:51]
27. Art of Rhetoric [3:54]
28. Turning Point [3:05]
29. Editing Shakespeare [8:02]
30. Death of the Princes [2:31]
31. "A Woeful Buckingham" [:33]
32. Bringing in Richmond [4:39]
33. The Tragedy [2:29]
34. Emphasis on the Welsh [2:49]
35. "Basic Human Instinct" [3:36]
36. One Unfortunate Cut [5:14]
37. Brando and Olivier [7:20]
38. "History Doesn't Repeat Itself" [2:56]
39. Olivier's Message [4:05]
Side #2 -- Disc Two
1. "My Boy Isn't Bad, Is He?" [8:11]
2. "Burning Ambition" [8:54]
3. Hamlet [8:25]
4. Richard III [8:15]
5. Othello [7:58]
6. The Entertainer [6:00]


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Richard III 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sir Laurence Olivier's epic production of William Shakespeare's "Richard III" is a classic and his greatest masterpiece after his stunning version of "Hamlet" in 1948, which won him Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actor...with good reason. Of course, Olivier had to cut the play, but he did it very well. I liked the way he intertwined Richard's opening monologue (one of the most famous in English literature) with parts of another monologue from "King Henry VI, Part III" (a less popular play but everything the Bard wrote-37 plays, 4 poems and 154 sonnets-is excellent). I highly recommend this version for English classes. This version is Not Rated. AVOID the 1995 modern "Remake" of this play. It is a waste of time and talent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Olivier's Masterpiece
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago