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I was disappointed. Not with Richard himself, which is played with unusual humor and bouts of real psychosis. I wasn't even that disturbed by Olivier's usual restructurings (he cuts well-known scenes, re-edits scene placement and even adds lines from a different version of the play). I think what put me off, mostly, was the look of the picture. Its Technicolor vibrancy and beautiful sets and locations give the story the feel of a fairy tale, which Richard III definitely is not. Yes, there's some intriguing work done with following characters' shadows, but I find the production design and cinematography at odds with the material. And though it seems Claire Bloom gets rave reviews about her Princess Anne, I can't believe the character's motivation. Olivier makes her desperately fall in love with his Richard over the corpse of her husband... it plays less well than a woman who now needs protection at court, in my opinion. She's good in that context, but I don't like the context. All the actors are fine, and my heart skipped at seeing Patrick Troughton as Tyrell, but I do find fault in Olivier's use of John Gielgud as Clarence. When you have an actor of that caliber, why would you so savagely cut half his scenes? Overall, a good film, but weaker than Olivier's Richard III or Hamlet (not coincidentally, it's the weaker play as well).
This is nowhere near as great as Olivier's Hamlet.
John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson , and Laurence Olivier- what a cast and director!
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In 5 official lists
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This movie ranks #9 in BAFTA - Best Film
This movie ranks #238 in The Criterion Collection
This movie ranks #240 in The British Film Institute: 360 Classics
This movie ranks #385 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #725 in The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made