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Richard III (The Criterion Collection) (1956)

Laurence Olivier , Wally Bascoe  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Laurence Olivier, Wally Bascoe, Claire Bloom, Pamela Brown, Alec Clunes
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: February 24, 2004
  • Run Time: 158 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00014K5ZA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,569 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Richard III (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital transfer of full-length film, including newly discovered footage from the original theatrical release, with restored image and sound
  • Commentary by playwright and state director Russell Lees, joined by John Wilders, former Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Great Acting: Laurence Olivier, a 1966 BBC interview with Olivier, hosted by renowned theater critic Kenneth Tynan
  • Gallery of on-set and production stillls and posters, featuring excerpts from Olivier's autobiography On Acting
  • 12-minute television trailer
  • Essay by historian Bruce Eder

Editorial Reviews

The story of Richard of Gloucester, a man twisted both in mind and body, as he schemes for the throne of England.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Rating: R
Release Date: 24-FEB-2004
Media Type: DVD

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
96 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even More Impressive in the DVD Format February 24, 2004
Format:DVD
Those who criticize Laurence Olivier and Alan Dent -- co-authors of the screenplay -- for taking certain liberties with Shakespeare's play should also criticize Shakespeare for taking certain liberties with the historical material on which he often relied so heavily. In this instance, Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, Vol. 6, and various Tudor Historians. In my opinion, such quibbling is a fool's errand. This much we do know about the historical Richard III. He was born in 1452 in Fotheringay Castle, Northamptonshire, the youngest son of Richard, Duke of York. He was created Duke of Gloucester by his brother, Edward IV, in 1461, accompanied him into exile (1470), and played a key role in his restoration (1471). Rewarded with part of the Neville inheritance, he exercised vice regal powers, and in 1482 re-captured Berwick-upon-Tweed from the Scots. When Edward died (1483) and was succeeded by his under-age son, Edward V, Richard acted first as protector, but within three months, he had overthrown the Woodvilles (relations of Edward IV's queen), arranged for the execution of Lord Hastings (c.1430-83), and had himself proclaimed and crowned as the rightful king. Young Edward and his brother were probably murdered in the Tower on Richard's orders, although not all historians agree. He tried to stabilize his position but failed to win broad-based support. His rival Henry Tudor (later Henry VII), confronted him in battle at Bosworth Field (August 22, 1485), when Richard died fighting bravely against heavy odds. Though ruthless, he was not the absolute monster Tudor historians portrayed him to be, nor is there proof he was a hunchback.
Cleverly, this film begins with the final scene of Henry IV, Part III, the coronation of Edward IV (Cedric Hardwicke).
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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest Shakespeare films... April 29, 2001
By IA
Format:VHS Tape
Only two of Orson Welles' Shakespeare films rival "Richard III" for the title of greatest Shakespeare movie ever made. That said, Olivier's film may contain the most sheerly enjoyable performance any actor gave on film. His Duke of Gloucester is the definitive performance. Elia Kazan once said Olivier had a certain girlish quality, and that quality is used in the film: His Richard is seductive--a prancing, charming monster whose voice sounds like "honey mixed with razor blades." But one look into his black eyes, framed by false hawk nose, violently angled eyebrows and fright pageboy wig, will tell you that he's also stone-cold pure evil. Richard enacts all our homicidal, plotting fantasies as he cheerfully knocks off all his stuffy relatives and rivals.
Olivier emphasizes the black comedy and wittiness of Shakespeare's play, which he cut and refashioned into a star vehicle for himself. Though Sirs Gielgud, Richardson and Hardwicke co-star, they don't make much of an impression. (Blame that on Shakespeare too) Interestingly, Olivier later regretted not having cast Orson Welles as Buckingham.
You experience two major innovations concerning the filming of Shakespeare: the first is Olivier's old custom of using extremely stylized, artificial sets, thereby making Shakespeare's stylized, artificial verse fit in with the settings. The second is the source of Olivier's triumph: he delivers his soliloquys directly to the camera. This daring move destroys the fourth wall and takes true advantage of what the movies offer. He becomes our friend and confidante and we become complicit in his mounting evil. The production values are top-notch: we get deliriously vibrant technicolour, William Walton's pompous, irresistible music of pageantry, and the book-of-hours sets.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a fine release of a great film. December 29, 2004
Format:DVD
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

Lawrence Olivier directed and stars in this great movie. As this is a Shakespeare release, I see no need to write a synopses. The acting is incredible and the photography is great also.

The Criterion Collection has done a fine job releasing this in a double disc set. It includes footage that was recently rediscovered and not seen for many years prior to the release.

The special features are:

"Great Acting: Laurence Olivier" A 1966 interview with Lawrence Olivier conducted for the BBC, a 12 minute featurette/trailer for the film as well as a theatrical trailer. There are also production and publicity photos and lobby cards. The film also has an optional audio commentary track by Russell Lees and John Wilders.

This is a must for Shakespeare fans.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
No one could rival Laurence Olivier (Hamlet, Henry V, Richard III) as the scheming, ruthless youngest son of the 3rd Duke of York, who stopped at nothing to be King Richard III. His first appearance was deceptive. I noticed only a big nose and recognized him only after he spoke. Burdened with a crooked back, limp and shrunk hand, his ambition for kingship only burnt more feverishly. With disguised humbleness, he made peace with other royalties. His words were sugar-coated and gay. He killed Warwick, the 'KingMaker' who helped enthrone his elder brother as King Edward IV, and wooed Warwick's daughter Anne(the beautiful Claire Bloom) to marry him shortly after killing her husband. His planned murders of his elder brother Duke of Clarence, Lord Hastings, his young nephews (heirs-to-be), his wife Anne made even today's politics pale and unexciting.

Yet the movie about such a dark character was beautiful in VistaColour, set and costumes, cinematography. Scenes of executions, naïve Lord Hastings (Alec Clunes) walking into his death trap, innocent heirs-to-be greeting uncle Richard and Richard's final battle are memorable. All the other characters exuded integraity, royality and humanity. They were handsome in appearance and noble in heart, so different from Richard III. Even the once accomplice Duke of Buckingham (Ralph Richardson), without whose help there would be no Richard III, showed a moment of caution in doing any more evil. Perhaps it's this great contrast between Richard and everyone else that made the movie luring and tragic. In his last battle of Bosworth Field, Laurence Olivier showed a more reflective and human side of Richard III.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic acting, not so keen on the color balance
Fantastic presentation of the Shakespeare play with Olivier at his best. I found the color restoration a bit too strong and not as natural as I had hoped but it is a lot better... Read more
Published 2 days ago by John Chandler
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but could of been a better production
Laurence was good as always, the rest of the production and acting not so much.
Published 15 days ago by Leroy S Marion
5.0 out of 5 stars OLIVIER CHANGES THE PLAY
Undue focus on Olivier but what a faantastic play .All the settings were wonderful and all the actors spoke so well in a clear accent that one seldom has the pleasure of hearing... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Richard Turnley
3.0 out of 5 stars It felt a little flat…
The story present here is one that, I must admit, is quite exciting. There is so much going on, and so much treachery and devilish machinations that one can’t help but get caught... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Andrew Ellington
5.0 out of 5 stars Olivier is irrisistible
It is marvelous to watch Laurence Olivier strut and fret his hour on the stage. He has the uncanny ability to almost make you like Richard as he closes in to talk to the camera,... Read more
Published 2 months ago by P. B. Sharp
4.0 out of 5 stars A real classsic
Here is a really classic combination. Britain's finest Shakespearean Actor playing England's most notorious monarch.
Olivier does come off as foppish at times. Read more
Published 4 months ago by fchmdpc
4.0 out of 5 stars great play with a little over the top production and acting
I love this play. Richard III is so much the contemporary 21st century politician in every way, never mind the man he was in life and/or in this play. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Bradley W. Bleck
3.0 out of 5 stars Richard III
The classic Shakespeare play in movie form with an excellent performance by Laurence Olivier. The battle scenes are a bit cheeky but typical of the film era.
Published 5 months ago by J. Ray Podesta
2.0 out of 5 stars richard III
Modern presentations are more nuanced, I think, and more true to life, with less gesturing. Probably attributable to the characteristics of filmed performances, but even in places... Read more
Published 6 months ago by suzanne middem
3.0 out of 5 stars Missing Subtitles
A major drawback is the missing of subtitles. Shakespeare cannot be enjoyed to the fullest without subtitles. What a pity and an oversight of this release.
Published 6 months ago by 4Real
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