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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Richard III (1955)

The Duke of Gloucester (Laurence Olivier) resents his brother's (Cedric Hardwicke) ascension to the throne of England and plots to usurp the throne by eliminating those who stand in his way including his brother (John Gielgud). Based on the Shakespeare play and directed by Laurence Olivier. This is my favorite of Olivier's four filmed Shakespeare adaptations (the others were 1944's HENRY V, 1948's HAMLET, 1965'S OTHELLO) and in no small part to Olivier's brilliant performance. Even at its 2 1/2 plus hour running time, the Shakespeare play is cut to keep the movie focused on Richard's rancorous rise to power. It's not very cinematic until the film's final 20 minutes but the power of Olivier's performance infuses the film with a fascinating portrait of pure malevolence. The acting is first rate although save one, none of them equals Olivier's potency. An underplaying Claire Bloom as Lady Anne gives a fragile tenuous performance in her three scenes, both repelled yet fascinated by Richard as she eventually succumbs. Once again, William Walton provides a perfect underscore. The large cast includes Ralph Richardson, Stanley Baker, Pamela Brown, Helen Haye, Laurence Naismith and Michael Gough.  

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