Laurence Olivier delivers one of his greatest Shakespearean performances as the lead role in this noir-ish Academy Award-winning 1948 version of Hamlet. Seldom has the tragic story of the Danish Prince, tortured by his duty to his murdered father and by the guilt and fear he feels at the prospect of revenge, been so brilliantly portrayed in this immortal story of murder, intrigue, madness and despair.
CAST & CREW
Director of Photography
Laurence Olivier, Basil Sydney, Eileen Herlie, Jean Simmons, Norman Wooland, Felix Aylmer, Terence Morgan, John Laurie, Esmond Knight, Anthony Quayle, Niall MacGinnis, Christopher Lee
Two Cities Films
Along with his contemporaries Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier dominated the British stage of the mid-20th century. He also worked in films throughout his career, playing more than fifty cinema roles. Late in his career, he had considerable success in television roles. His family had no theatrical connections, but Olivier's father, a clergyman, decided that his son should become an actor. After attending a drama school in London, Olivier learned his craft in a succession of acting jobs during the late 1920s. In 1930, he had his first important West End success in Noël Coward's Private Lives, and he appeared in his first film. In 1935, he played in a celebrated production of Romeo and Juliet alongside Gielgud and Peggy Ashcroft, and by the end of the decade he was an established star. In the 1940s, together with Richardson and John Burrell, Olivier was the co-director of the Old Vic, building it into a highly respected company. There his most celebrated roles included Shakespeare's Richard III and Sophocles's Oedipus. In the 1950s Olivier was an independent actor-manager, but his stage career was in the doldrums until he joined the avant garde English Stage Company in 1957 to play the title role in The Entertainer, a part he later played on film. From 1963 to 1973, he was the founding director of Britain's National Theatre, running a resident company that fostered many future stars. His own parts there included the title role in Othello (1964) and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice (1970). There his most celebrated roles included Shakespeare's Richard III and Sophocles's Oedipus. Olivier's honours included a knighthood (1947), a life peerage (1970) and the Order of Merit (1981). For his on-screen work he received four Academy Awards, two British Academy Film Awards, five Emmy Awards and three Golden Globe Awards. The National Theatre's largest auditorium is named in his honour, and he is commemorated in the Laurence Olivier Awards, given annually by the Society of London Theatre. He was married three times, to the actresses Jill Esmond from 1930 to 1940, Vivien Leigh from 1940 to 1960, and Joan Plowright from 1961 until his death.
The Temporary Widow (1930), Wuthering Heights (1929), Rebecca (1940), Pride and Prejudice (1940), Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948), Carrie (1952), Richard III (1955), The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), The Devil Desciple (1959), The Entertainer (1960), Spartacus (1960), Uncle Vanya (1963), Othello (1965), Dance of Death (1969), Three Sisters (1970), Lady Caroline Lamb (1972), Marathon Man (1976), A Bridge Too Far (1977), The Boys from Brazil (1978), A Little Romance (1979), The Jazz Singer (1980), Clash of Titans (1981), The Bounty (1984). Wild Gees II (1985), War Requiem (1989).