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Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Bard's On Blu-Ray


Richard III (1955) With Vistavision Is A Dream Team

Shakespeare showman Laurence Olivier goes his Henry IV and Hamlet one better with addition of VistaVision to rich Technicolor, a tapestry lately and lovingly restored for Criterion Blu-ray release. Legendary clarity of VV pics from the 50's is confirmed here; none so far released other than The Ten Commandments look so good. I still find it tough following Bardish situations and dialogue, so found necessary a bone-up via online synopsis before watching, that a big help as Dick III's machinations get powerful complicated. Olivier has broad fun playing at flamboyant villainy, breaking fourth walls to speak direct to viewers, a welcome device to make Richard a viewer's confidant. Hammer fans will delight in Tower murderers as essayed by Michael Gough and Michael Ripper, and Larry's nemesis for a third act shows up in person of Stanley Baker, so there's links aplenty to multiple Brit pics we like. The pity of Richard III is most of its 3/56 viewership gathered 'round B/W free-vee, the feature having its US premiere on the tube thanks to experiment on part of NBC and producing Alex Korda. The venture was good for ratings, but disaster for Richard --- he'd go down at domestic boxoffices sure as at Bosworth Field. Greenbriar told that story in an 11/29/10 post here.

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