Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Richard III (1955, UK)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Richard III (1955, UK)

In this Technicolored British film adaptation of Shakespeare's play, King Richard III - it was directed, produced, scripted, and co-produced by its lead star, Laurence Olivier, who was nominated (it was his 5th of 10 career acting nominations) for the title role of the dastardly and nasty Duke who eventually plotted to become England's monarch; it was Olivier's third and oft-praised Shakespearean film - and most recently considered his finest work:

  • after the opening title screens, a scrolling prologue went on to preface the film: "THE STORY OF ENGLAND. Like that of many another land is an interwoven pattern of history and legend. The history of the world, like letters without poetry, flowers without perfume, or thought without imagination, would be a dry matter indeed without its legends, and many of these, though scorned by proof a hundred times, seem worth preserving for their own familiar sakes. The following begins in the latter half of the 15th Century in England, at the end of a long period of strife set about by rival factions for the English crown, known as the Wars of the Roses. The Red Rose being the emblem for The House of Lancaster. The White for The House of York. This White Rose of York was in its final flowering at the beginning of the Story as it inspired William Shakespeare..."
  • the film's opening titles ended with this additional scrolling prologue: "Here now begins one of the most famous, and at the same time, the most infamous of the legends that are attached to THE CROWN OF ENGLAND."
  • the first scene was introduced by a close-up of the English coronation ceremony in the Great Hall to crown Edward IV (Cedric Hardwicke) as the new King of England; those who attended included Edward's two younger brothers: Richard - Duke of Gloucester (Laurence Olivier), and George - Duke of Clarence (John Gielgud), and a cousin: the Duke of Buckingham (Ralph Richardson)
  • Edward IV was married to Queen Elizabeth (Mary Kerridge), and they had two children: young Edward, Prince of Wales (Paul Huson) and the Young Duke of York (Andy Shine)

The Film's First Image - The Crown of England

The Crowning - Coronation of King Edward IV (Cedric Hardwicke)

Richard - Duke of Gloucester (Laurence Olivier) - One of The King's Younger Brothers
  • after the coronation, everyone exited for a jubilant public parade with cheering crowds, while Edward's black-hearted brother Richard remained behind alone in the throne room, where he delivered - directly toward the audience and camera - his famous soliloquy about his jealous feelings concerning his older brother's rise to power and the coming of peace, when he only took pleasure in war (most recently by helping to win the war against King Henry VI of the House of Lancaster, that put Edward on the throne)
Richard's Soliloquy: "Now is the winter of our discontent..."
  • the soliloquy: "Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of York. And all the clouds that glower'd upon our house in the deep bosom of the ocean - buried. Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths, our bruised arms hung up for monuments, our stern alarums changed to merry meetings, our dreadful marches to delightful measures. Grim-visaged war has smoothed his wrinkled front. And now instead of mounting barbed steeds to fright the souls of fearful adversaries, he capers nimbly in a lady's chamber to the lascivious pleasing of a lute! But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks, nor made to court an amorous looking glass, I, that am rudely stamped and want love's majesty to strut before a wanton ambling nymph, I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion, cheated of feature by dissembling nature - deformed, unfinished, sent before my time into this breathing world scarce half made up and that so lamely and unfashionable that dogs bark at me as I halt by them..."
  • he also spoke about his physical, 'disproportionate' human deformities (a limp, a hunchback and a withered arm and hand) and how he would only be pleased by becoming King himself; the scheming, ruthless and manipulative Richard explained - carefully and calculatingly - how he was devising a complex plan of deception and violent death to reach his objective - to obtain the English crown for himself: ("I'll make my heaven to dream upon the crown...and, whiles I live, to account this world but hell until this misshaped trunk that bears this head be round impaled with a glorious. Crown")
  • meanwhile, Richard had plans to wed widowed Lady Anne (Claire Bloom), the former Princess of Wales who was still in mourning and was cursing Richard who had lethally stabbed her husband Edward - Prince of Wales at Tewksbury, and also killed her father; she called him the devil and a "dreadful minister of hell!", but he vowed to woo her and temporarily inhabit her bedchamber ("I'll have her but I will not keep her long"); Richard soon went on to seduce and woo Lady Anne, after challenging her to either run him through with his sword, or permit him to commit suicide; she succumbed to him and accepted his offer of a ring, a kiss and marriage
  • Richard's plot was to eliminate all of his competition - the heirs to the throne, beginning with his first victim - his own brother George - Duke of Clarence; he described his dastardly plan: ("To set my brother Clarence and the King in deadly hate the one against the other"); he denounced and falsely framed George of Clarence by claiming that he was conspiring to kill the King and eliminate his heirs; although the King revoked the order of execution for the Duke in the Tower of London, Richard had already hired two other coarse executioners to murder George in his cell by beating him to death and then submersing his entire body in a vat of wine (he had asked: "Give me a cup of wine")
Some of Richard's Many Victims

George - Duke of Clarence (John Gielgud)

Lord Chamberlain - Lord Hastings (Alec Clunes)

Young Prince Edward - Briefly King Edward V
  • the elderly and exhausted King Edward IV died shortly after hearing of George's death; further disorder was orchestrated in the court by Richard; he apprehended and then planned for the new princely heirs to the throne - King Edward IV's young son Edward who was briefly King Edward V, and the boy's young brother the Duke of York - to be detained in the Tower of London
  • he also accused the Lord Chamberlain - Lord Hastings (Alec Clunes) of unfounded claims of traitorous conspiracy: (Richard: "Tell me what they deserve that do conspire my death with devilish plots of damned witchcraft and that have prevailed upon my body with their hellish charms?...Thou art a traitor! Off with his head!"); Hastings was arrested and soon beheaded
  • Richard's corrupt cousin Duke of Buckingham appealed to the people to promote Richard as the next monarch, highlighting his strong qualifications with oratory - ("I did infer your lineaments, being the right idea of your father, both in your form and nobleness of mind, laid open all your victories in Scotland, your discipline in war, wisdom in peace, your bounty, virtues, fair humility"), but the people weren't roused or convinced; after more pressure on the crowd and feigning virtuousness, Richard was able to usurp the Crown and make himself King, by first shunning the people's requests to accept the Crown, pretending not to be interested, but then reluctantly accepting the offer when they begged him to accept; the people cried out: "Long live Richard, England's worthy king!"; Anne reluctantly became his Queen
Newly-Crowned King Richard and His Queen Anne, and Richard's Proposal to Buckingham to Immediately Murder the Two Young Male Heirs to the Throne
  • however, the Duke of Buckingham was becoming increasingly "circumspect" and worried about Richard's psychopathic, lawless, heartless, crazed and power-hungry reign, and was astounded when the newly-crowned King Richard immediately proposed murdering the doomed young male-heirs to the throne: ("Thou know'st young Edward and his brother lives....I wish the bastards dead, and I would have it suddenly performed"); Richard was also maneuvering to report that his wife Anne had died, so that he could marry his deceased brother King Edward's daughter Elizabeth - to solidify his position: ("Murder her brothers, and then marry her. Familiar way of gain. But I am in so far in blood... that sin will pluck on sin. Tear-falling pity dwells not in this eye")
  • the Duke of Buckingham was also relieved of being the King's counselor, and he fled for his life after the vexed Richard angrily refused a promised Earldom of Hereford position to him: ("I'm not in the giving vein today!"); henceforth, Buckingham joined Henry Tudor (Stanley Baker) the Earl of Richmond, in opposition to Richard's autocratic rule
  • to perform the evil and murderous deed, Richard sought out minor knight Sir James Tyrrel (Patrick Troughton) who was paid in gold, and the two young princes were smothered to death while sleeping together in the same bed inside the Tower; Richard also vaguely reported: "Anne my wife hath bid this world good night"
  • Richard's armed forces within the House of York became pitted against the military might of the House of Lancaster, led by Henry Tudor - who was determined to reclaim the crown; the Lord Stanley (Laurence Naismith) also betrayed Richard and allied himself with Henry; however, before the major battle, Buckingham was captured and Richard ordered his cousin beheaded ("Off with his head")
  • the night before the major conflict on Bosworth Field, Richard experienced "fearful dream"-nightmares in his tent of his victims in the form of ghosts - brother George, his two nephews, Lord Hastings, and his wife Anne, each telling Richard to "despair and die"; he also had a premonition of losing his horse and being wounded in battle: ("Give me another horse! Bind up my wounds!")
Before Battle

Richard Experienced Nightmares of His Dead Victims

Anne - One of the Ghosts
  • just before the forces clashed together, Richard delivered a brief inspirational speech to his soldiers on horseback: "Join bravely, let us to it pell-mell. If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell. Fight, gentlemen of England! Fight, bold yeomen! Draw, archers, draw your arrows to the head! Spur your proud horses hard and ride in blood!....Advance our standards, set upon our foes. Our ancient word of courage, fair Saint George, inspire us with the spleen of fiery dragons! Upon them! Victory sits in our helms!"
  • as the fighting commenced, King Richard III was knocked off his horse; he lost his crown and his helmet, but then was able to take another man's horse, but then the second horse was shot out from under him by an archer with a bow and arrow; now basically defenseless and on foot, he desperately cried out: "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse"
  • Richard and Lord Stanley, who approached on foot, engaged in a very brief one-on-one sword duel, interrupted by surrounding Lancastarian troops that attacked and fatally wounded Richard; in the end, he convulsed on the ground with several spasms, and then held his sword toward the sky as he died; afterwards, his limp body was tied on a horse and led away

Richard Knocked From His First Horse

Richard Crying Out: "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse"

Wounded, Defenseless, and Surrounded

Richard Attacked - Stabbed and Throat Slit

Death Spasms On the Ground

Richard's Eventual Death Without a Horse
The End of King Richard
  • the film finished with Lord Stanley's discovery of Richard's lost crown in a thorn bush; he held it up and offered it to Henry Tudor - to crown him and restore peace and safety to England as Henry VII

After His Coronation, The King on Horseback During Parade, With His Heir - Princely Son Edward V

Grieving Lady Anne (Claire Bloom)

Richard's Devious Plan to Wed Lady Anne

Richard's Plan: "I'll have her but I will not keep her long"

Richard Successfully Wooing the Contemptuous and Spiteful Lady Anne

The Worried Queen Elizabeth (Mary Kerridge) About Her Husband King Edward IV's Health

King Edward IV - Upset At the News of His Brother George's Death Before Suddenly Dying Himself

The Beheading of Lord Chamberlain - Lord Hastings

Richard's Co-Conspirator and Corrupt Cousin - the Duke of Buckingham (Ralph Richardson)

Richard Congratulated by the Duke of Buckingham After Accepting the People's Urgings to Be Crowned King of England

The Plotting King Richard: ("Murder her brothers, and then marry her")

The King to Buckingham About His Promised Earldom: "I'm not in the giving vein today!"

The King Ordering Tyrell to Murder the Two Young Princes in the Tower

The Two Leaders of the House of Lancaster:

Henry Tudor (Stanley Baker), the Earl of Richmond

The Lord Stanley (Laurence Naismith)

The House of York and Richard Himself - Prepared for Battle on Bosworth Field

Hand-to-Hand Combat

At the End of the Battle, Lord Stanley Discovered King Richard's Discarded Crown in a Thorn Bush and Raised It Upwards to Crown Henry Tudor


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