Olivier mustered out of the navy to film this adaptation of Shakespeare’s history. Embroiled in World War II, Britons took courage from this tale of a king who surmounts overwhelming odds and emerges victorious. This sumptuous Technicolor rendering features a thrilling recreation of the battle of Agincourt, and Sir Laurence in his prime as director and actor. —The Criterion Collection
Laurence Olivier has been variously lauded as the greatest Shakespearean interpreter of the 20th century, the greatest classical actor of the era, and the greatest actor of his generation. Olivier was the son of an Anglican minister, who, despite his well-documented severity, was an unabashed theater lover, enthusiastically encouraging young Olivier to give acting a try. The boy made his first public appearance at age nine, playing Brutus in an All Saint’s production of Julius Caesar. Much has been made of the fact that the 15-year-old Olivier played Katherine in a St. Edward’s School production of The Taming of the Shrew; though, two years after The Taming of the Shrew, he enrolled at the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art, where one of his instructors was Claude Rains. Olivier made his professional London debut the same year in The Suliot Officer, and joined the Birmingham Repertory in 1926; by the time Olivier was 20, he was playing leads. His subsequent West End… read more
Probably the best treatment this play could ever receive*. Pretty much impeccably staged and performed and doing full justice to the original manuscript, giving it complete and utter life. Olivier’s direction also includes many stylised elements, all of which only complement excellently the text and its ideals within.