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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: Olivier's R3
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2414  Tuesday, 23 October 2001

[1]     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Oct 2001 12:49:59 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2408 Olivier's R3

[2]     From:   Ann Carrigan <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Oct 2001 16:37:19 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2408 Olivier's R3

[3]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Oct 2001 13:50:31 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2408 Olivier's R3

[4]     From:   Louis Swilley <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Oct 2001 16:01:28 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2408 Olivier's R3


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Oct 2001 12:49:59 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 12.2408 Olivier's R3
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2408 Olivier's R3

Um, may I take issue with the characterization of Gielgud's "mincing"
Clarence?  To begin with, it is the voice that Gielgud is known for, not
the 'port of Mars.'  The "cat with rickets" had struggles with
physicality, as he himself admitted.

Second, how on earth can Sam Small characterize Gielgud's _voice_ as
'mincing'?  Having heard Gielgud's detached, morose _Hamlet_, the panic
and genuine fear in Clarence were a revelation to me.  It's got music,
feeling, and if played in a full-sized theatre instead of a puny plastic
box in one's front room, it raises the hair on the back of one's head.

In a sense, Olivier's R-III demonstrates the variety of approaches to
Shakespeare that existed in his day -- much like Branagh's insistence on
variety in his own films.  Funny, though, how Olivier's casting never
gets criticized, just the actors themselves, while Branagh - who did
much the same thing -- always gets panned for his casting.

Cheers,
Andy White

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ann Carrigan <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Oct 2001 16:37:19 EDT
Subject: 12.2408 Olivier's R3
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2408 Olivier's R3

> Larry's performance is most forceful and quite outshines the entire
> cast, but while Olivier attempted to get "down-and-dirty" the rest of
> the players failed to take a cue.  Ralf Richardson was particularly
> guilty as Buckingham.  In the "clock scene" Buckingham realises in a few
> seconds that he has fallen from the second most powerful person in
> England to a dead man in a gutter.  Richardson was either in total
> ignorance of this or felt it unnecessary to show it.

Sam Small wrote about Olivier's "Richard III" film, and echoed some of
my feelings about it. Overall, I found it too decorous in the places
where the bloodthirst and wrath should be palpable. The cast and style
would have been interesting had Olivier been doing "Richard II" -- and I
imagined that pearly voice of his in the lead role.

I have seen three vigorous R3's on stage over the past five years or so
-- Orlando Shaks Fest, Alabama Shaks Fest, and the visiting RSC
production in Michigan earlier this year. All succeeded in my
estimation, and all had a wonderful rapport between Richard and the
audience, and between Richard and Buckingham. In my opinion that
intimacy with the audience is hard to achieve in the scope of a feature
film. Howell's BBC Shakespeare tackled this problem by having Richard
(Ron Cook) speak and look into the camera in a tight one-shot. I thought
it worked well. On a huge screen, it might not.

--Ann Carrigan

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Oct 2001 13:50:31 -0700
Subject: 12.2408 Olivier's R3
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2408 Olivier's R3

Not surprisingly, some of the comments about the film version of
Olivier's *RIII* rather missed the point.

Olivier hired those actors and directed them.  They probably gave him
what he wanted, so the responsibility is his.  In this interpretation,
they didn't give bad performances, they just have a different style than
Olivier's, which I suspect was his point.  It is a way of isolating
Richard.  Olivier did a lot to isolate Richard in this film.

It is also noteworthy that the reviews of 1955, most of which I have
read, do not mention this "problem."  I think the contrasting styles may
be more distinct today than they were in their native era.

Mike Jensen

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis Swilley <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Oct 2001 16:01:28 -0500
Subject: 12.2408 Olivier's R3
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2408 Olivier's R3

To add to Sam Small's "take" on Olivier's R3 (the film), I would like to
contribute that one of the devastating effects of Olivier's performance
was his drawing the audience into the cheery "comedy" of Richard's
plotting and crimes - then the horror of our "collaboration" dawns on us
as and when it does on Buckingham. (Richard: "Chop off his head, man...
Somewhat we will do.")

One of the most memorable scenes in the film is the balletic performance
of Olivier and Richardson in the scene of Buckingham's report to Richard
of the townspeople's reaction to the suggestion that Richard should have
the crown (in the play, the report is to Gloucester - III, vii ) -
during which Buckingham/Richardson prepares a sandwich, punctuating his
remarks with the addition of ingredients, while Richard/Olivier "dances"
around him, desperate for his report.

L. Swilley

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