Internet Shakespeare Editions

Shakespeare in Performance: Film

Richard III: by William Shakespeare with Some Interpolations by David Garrick and Colley Cibber (1955, Laurence Olivier)

TitleRichard III: by William Shakespeare with Some Interpolations by David Garrick and Colley Cibber
Release LocationsGB
DirectorLaurence Olivier
MediumColor video
Length2 hrs, 37 mins
Audiencecollege and university
general public
Play ConnectionsRichard III (performance)


As the subtitle suggests, the script for Olivier's film drew heavily on the stage tradition set by Colley Cibber when he grafted the last part of 3H6 on to Richard III to make the narrative more comprehensible to an average audience. Designer Roger Furse needed special care with the details of the 15th-century settings because the new technique of VistaVision photography could pick out the most distant background scene with pinpoint clarity. Carmen Dillon completed the job of transferring the settings to the three large stages at Shepperton Studios, London. The film was premiered in the USA simultaneously on screen and television, being televised nationally from 2:30 to 5:30 PM, 11 March 1956, by NBC to 146 stations in 45 states. America's then most visible Shakespeare expert, Dr. Frank Baxter, offered an intermission talk on the gap between Shakespeare's Richard III and the historical Richard III. The viewers, estimated at 25 million, exceeded the combined audiences for all Shakespeare productions throughout history. Since only 25,000 American homes then had color tv, most people viewed the production in a depressing black and white

Description from Shakespeare on Screen : an International Filmography and Videography by Kenneth S. Rothwell and Annabelle Henkin Melzer. ©1990 Kenneth S. Rothwell. Cited by permission. — Added 2008-11-14

Cast Overview

King Edward IVCedric Hardwicke
Prince Of WalesPaul Huson
ClarenceJohn Gielgud
RichardLaurence Olivier
Duke Of YorkAndy Shine
RichmondStanley Baker
Duke Of BuckinghamSir Ralph Richardson
NorfolkJohn Phillips
Lord RiversClive Morton
Lord DorsetDouglas Wilmer
Lord GreyDan Cunningham
Lord HastingsAlec Clunes
Lord StanleyLaurence Naismith
LovelJohn Laurie
RatcliffeEsmond Knight
CatesbyNorman Wooland
BrackenburyAndrew Cruickshank
PriestRussell Thorndike
Mayor Of LondonGeorge Woodbridge
Queen ElizabethMary Kerridge
Duchess Of YorkHelen Haye
Lady AnneClaire Bloom
ScrivenerTerence Greenidge
ClergymanDerek Prentice
ClergymanDeering Wells
MessengerPeter Williams
ScrubwomanAnne Wilton
Jane ShorePamela Brown
George StanleyRichard Bennett
AbbottRoy Russell

Production Team and Crew Overview

DirectorLaurence Olivier
Associate DirectorAnthony Bushnell
Assistant DirectorGerry O'Hara
ProducerLaurence Olivier
Production DesignerRoger Furse
EditorHelga Cranston
ContinuityPamela Davis
ComposerSir William Walton
Production ManagerJack Martin
MakeupTony Sforzini
SoundBert Rule
ConductorMuir Mathieson
CameraDenys Coop
Director of PhotographyAlan Dent
PhotographyOtto Heller
Art DirectionCarmen Dillon
Production SupervisorJohn Gossage
Special EffectsWally Veevers

Production information courtesy of: Kenneth Rothwell