Archives for Laurence Olivier

Chimes at Midnight (1965)

Chimes at Midnight (1965) Directed by Orson Welles Starring Orson Welles, Keith Baxter, John Gielgud, Jeanne Moreau and Margaret Rutherford reviewed by John Murphy Has there ever been a more felicitous pairing of part and performer than Falstaff and Orson Welles? With his rotund body and orotund voice, Welles knew he was born to play “this huge hill of flesh,” “Sir John” Falstaff, Shakespeare’s iconic sack-swilling scamp and scallywag. After decades of neglect and shoddy prints, we are blessed to have a new Criterion Collection release of Welles’s masterpiece, Chimes at Midnight, restored to its full lavish glory by Janus
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The Merchant of Venice (1973) starring Laurence Olivier

directed by John Sichel, based on the Jonathan Miller stage production at the National Theatre I watched this 1973 adaptation of The Merchant of Venice on the heels of viewing Michael Radford’s recent film and, I’ll tell you, the comparison doesn’t flatter the former. Most who seek out this version are probably curious as to how the legendary Laurence Olivier fares as Shylock, the Jewish money-lender, and one of Shakespeare’s most memorable “villains.” I put that word in quotes not because it was equivocal for Elizabethan audiences, but because modern audiences are naturally troubled by Shakespeare’s apparent anti-Semitism. Actually, Shakespeare
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Richard III (1956) directed by and starring Laurence Olivier

© 2005 John Murphy Many excellent actors have tackled that “foul lump of deformity,” the hunchbacked Duke of Gloucester, a.k.a. Richard III. Among them such acting greats as Ian Mckellen and Al Pacino. Say “Richard the Third,” though, and I immediately think of a human spider with hooded eyes, a pageboy haircut, sharp nose, and halting chicken legs in black tights. In other words, I think of Laurence Olivier’s Richard III. This ranks as one of Lord Laurence’s greatest performances, if not the greatest. It’s certainly his most darkly sardonic and deliciously self-confident. Olivier was really at the top of
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