Richard III (1956) - Rotten Tomatoes

Richard III (1956)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Laurence Olivier was the director, co-screenwriter (with Alan Dent), and star of this robust adaptation of Shakespeare's drama, which, as Bruce Eder has written, "was the final, crowning glory of the British studio system and the end of the great cycle of British films aimed at international audiences." Olivier begins his Richard III with Edward IV (Cedric Hardwicke) being crowned king. In the background of the celebration, Richard (Laurence Olivier) jealously views the proceedings and begins to pick off those obstructing his pathway to the throne. Eventually, Richard becomes king and, after proceeding with a succession of intrigues and duplicities, he finds his kingdom in dire peril, set upon by Henry Tudor (Stanley Baker) and mustering a final defense for his realm at the Battle of Bosworth. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

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Cedric Hardwicke
as Edward Plantagenet (King Edward IV)
Nicholas Hannen
as Archbishop of Canterbury
Laurence Olivier
as Richard III
Ralph Richardson
as Henry Stafford Duke of Buckingham
John Gielgud
as George Duke of Clarence
Claire Bloom
as Lady Anne Neville
Alec Clunes
as Thomas Lord Hastings
Mary Kerridge
as Elizabeth Woodville (Queen Elizabeth)
Stanley Baker
as Henry Tudor
Pamela Brown
as Jane Shore
Paul Huston
as Edward Prince of Wales
Russell Thorndike
as First Priest
Andrew Cruickshank
as Brankenbury
Clive Morton
as Antony Woodville Earl Rivers
Douglas Wilmer
as Marquess of Dorset
Michael Ripper
as 2nd murderer
George Woodbridge
as Lord Mayor of London
Esmond Knight
as Sir Richard Ratcliffe
John Laurie
as Lord Lovell
Ann Wilton
as Scrub woman
Bill Shine
as Beadle
Deering Wells
as Clergyman
Richard Bennett
as George Stanley
Patrick Troughton
as James Tyrell
Brian Nissen
as 1st Messenger
Alexander Davion
as 2nd Messenger
Lane Meddick
as 3rd Messenger
Robert Bishop
as Messenger
Laurence Naismith
as Thomas Lord Stanley
John Phillips
as John Howard Duke of Norfolk
Derek Prentice
as Clergyman
Norman Wooland
as Sir William Catesby
Helen Haye
as Queen Mother
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News & Interviews for Richard III

Critic Reviews for Richard III

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (4)

The final word, however, must be that this is a superb and bold achievement, most honourable to Shakespeare and to the actor-producer-director, something of a cinematographic miracle.

March 21, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Laurence Olivier's classic rendition (1956) of Shakespeare's total villain contains one of his most engaging performances and reveals some of his best spatial manipulation of action.

July 9, 2008 | Full Review…

It becomes almost laughable when it tries to transcend its own timidity in the dramatic climaxes.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The quality of production was superb, and a viewer had a true sense of pageantry and court grandeur.

March 17, 2004 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Olivier's title-role performance is a triumph of subtlety and venom, and his surrounding cast is virtually an Honors List of the British legitimate theatre.

January 7, 2020 | Full Review…

The play's the thing, then, with Olivier's hunchback scowling and lurching around the sets like Charles Laughton's Quasimodo.

November 27, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Richard III

"Conscience is a word that cowards use." - Richard III This original "Game of Thrones" adapted Shakespeare's play to the screen for the first time with director Laurence Olivier relishing the title role. Richard's conniving concoctions are a pleasure to see play out as characters are dispatched in diverse yet artful manners. John McCorry worked overtime in ornamenting the cast, arranged like flowers in this Technicolor framing. RICHARD III hits many peaks during its occasionally dense and admittedly dated run.

J.S. Lewis
J.S. Lewis

Super Reviewer

Although the depictions of Richard III could perhaps have been overplayed over the years, no one revels in the stereotype like Laurence Olivier delivering a deliciously manipulating Richard.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer


Shakespeare, a.k.a. Mr. Wordy, takes a lot of time to say what he means. Thus it is no wonder that this version of Richard III is Tedium 101. Sure, it's a faithful rendition, but Olivier does very little to spice this up a bit. The final scene was laughable. The 1995 version with Ian McKellen is a much more accessible version for the modern audience.

Wildaly M
Wildaly M

Super Reviewer

Richard III Quotes

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