Laurence Olivier

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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hearthesilence
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC

Laurence Olivier

#1 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Feb 02, 2015 1:43 am

Just came across this article on Olivier. I knew of his reputation before seeing any of his films - I don't mean this as a slight, but it's sad that his greatness may have been in his stage work. How amazing would it be to witness any of those legendary performances that knocked out the naysayers of his film work? Of his films, I favor The Entertainer and Richard III the most, but I'll have to check out Carrie now.

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thirtyframesasecond
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:48 pm

Re: Laurence Olivier

#2 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:19 pm

Funny you should mention Olivier as the Guardian had a terrific article about him yesterday

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2015/f ... ve-letters

...I woke up absolutely raging with desire for you my love … Oh dear God how I did want you. Perhaps you were stroking your darling self...

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hearthesilence
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC

Re: Laurence Olivier

#3 Post by hearthesilence » Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:33 pm

Nice! Welles' centennial and Film Forum screenings got me to revisit Welles' work, particularly his Shakespeare films, and that's actually what got me thinking about Olivier. The critics and press were far kinder towards Olivier's adaptations, but Welles' were the true masterpieces. I think Olivier's weren't quite great films, but they certainly have plenty of merit, and that got me thinking about his stage work vs. his film work. I actually didn't realize his staging of Othello was filmed and released by WB! Apparently much more stage-bound (or rather, beholden to his stage production) than the three more-renowned works released by Criterion.

It's amazing how Vivien Leigh's film legacy rests almost entirely on two roles - I actually prefer the "less" famous one, which I think is one of the great film performances of all-time, very much on par with her co-star's revolutionary performance. I didn't realize she and Olivier were on good terms following their split. Very sad what happened to her in general, I always wondered how much her profession damaged her emotional and physical health?

Looking through the Guardian, it's amazing how regularly he appears in their newspaper. He definitely retains an iconic status in the UK that surpasses his reputation in the States, but I suppose that's always been true. Most of his theatrical work was in the UK, correct? This certainly must have helped in shoring up his reputation there as the century's greatest actor.


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Roger Ryan
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:04 pm
Location: A Midland town spread and darkened into a city

Re: Laurence Olivier

#5 Post by Roger Ryan » Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:52 pm

hearthesilence wrote:...The critics and press were far kinder towards Olivier's adaptations, but Welles' were the true masterpieces.
Olivier himself reportedly said as much to Welles' eldest daughter at a dinner party, noting that Welles' take on MACBETH and OTHELLO worked far better as films than Olivier's own Shakespeare adaptations.

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ando
Bringing Out El Duende
Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2004 6:53 pm
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Re: Laurence Olivier

#6 Post by ando » Tue Feb 17, 2015 1:38 am

Other than The Entertainer Olivier impressed me most as Astrov in his film version of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. It's radily available still and one of the best film versions, though I'm partial to the 1970 BBC production with Freddie Jones as Vanya and Anthony Hopkins as the doctor.

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