The Bard pulled no punches in his dramatization of Richard III, and Laurence Olivier’s filmization likewise portrays him as a ruthless and unscrupulous character, who stops at nothing to obtain the throne. The murder of his brother Clarence (John Gielgud), the betrayal of his cousin, Buckingham (Ralph Richardson), the suffocation of the princes in the Tower are among the unscrupulous steps in the path of Richard’s crowning, which are staged with lurid, melodramatic conviction.
At all times Shakespeare’s poetry, impeccably spoken by this outstanding cast, heightens the dramatic atmosphere. The production, and notably Roger Furse’s decor, is consistently spectacular. The climactic battle sequences rival the pageantry of Henry V.
Running Olivier’s performance a very close second is Richardson’s scheming Buckingham. Another distinguished performance is contributed by Gielgud as Clarence.
1956: Nomination: Best Actor (Laurence Olivier)