Updated November 20, 2014

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St Crispin Day Speech

Buy The World at War (30th Anniversary Edition) from Amazon - Narrated by Olivier My Week With Marilyn -- "...Besides Williams, the film contains another surefire acting nominee in Kenneth Branagh’s biting and all-knowing interpretation of Laurence Olivier." 

My Week With Marilyn Trailer

9/1/2011: Empire: First Look At Kenneth Branagh As Laurence Olivier In ‘My Week with Marilyn’

Branagh As Olivier

daily mail film award
The Daily Mail Film Award - 1947 - Thanks, Ian


I thought you'd like to read a short article on Sir Lawrence.

My father, Terry Gallacher, filmed him making a statement on the opening of the Chichester Festival Theatre for Movietone in 1962.  As Terry says further on, some of his colleagues didn't quite appreciate who they were dealing with!

The film Terry shot can be viewed at, sadly it's not in sync but you can still hear the great man's statement.

regards, Ian Gallacher

4/5/2011 The Guardian- Kenneth Branagh: The star who forgot how to shine -- "...Later this month, Branagh's film based on the exploits of the Marvel comic book superhero Thor will make its way into cinemas. Thor may well be the best thing since Skype, or narcotics, or the dole; it may do for Nordic mythology what The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo did for Nordic crime fiction; it may even be the finest translation of a Marvel comic ever brought to the screen though, based on the trailer, I doubt it. It will not, however, be Wuthering Heights or Richard III or The Entertainer or That Hamilton Woman or Rebecca or Spartacus or Marathon Man or even Sleuth. It will not be on a par with the best of Olivier, or even much of autumnal Olivier. It may be better than the autumnal Clash of the Titans and The Betsy, but only slightly. However it turns out, one thing is clear: somewhere between Henry V and Thor, Branagh's train ride to Olivier-like superstardom was derailed."
You Tube 3/11/2011 Vivien Leigh - The Rare Moments
Olivier Awards 2011 The Olivier Awards

Great Olivier related links from Ian Payne

Payne's images here

I put on an exhibition in 1999 at Long Crendon Library called THE OLIVIER'S AT NOTLEY ABBEY - about their time in BUCKS FROM 1940 - 1960. Notley was part of that village and still is and we used to live near to it. At that time Sir John Gielgud was also down the road from me and Sir John Mills still lived in Denham. Jean Simmons once said to me via the phone in 2000 that she had her interview with Olivier for Hamlet at Notley Abbey and remembered passing Vivien Leigh as she planted shrubs in a flower bed at front of the house in around 1946/47. Vivien apparently looked up, smiled and said hello, but nothing else, just carried on doing what she was doing  :

Funnily enough when Jean Simmons phoned me up in Jan 2000 to chat to me I was watching BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING starring Olivier. I also wrote a book about Richard Wattis who starred in BUNNY LAKE.... and also in THE PRINCE & THE SHOWGIRL [and in the stage version of film called THE SLEEPING PRINCE with Larry Olivier and Viv Leigh] : [Trailer for Prince & The Showgirl] [See Richard Wattis with Olivier in Bunny Lake Is Missing from about 3.20 to 5.00]

I also have written about Sir Cedric Hardwicke who also was one of the 4 great Shakespearian actors of C 20th with Olivier, Richardson and Gielgud and they can all be seen in the following RICHARD III [1955] : 


PS : - Laurence Olivier - Life The Wrong Box
Michael Caine -NPR - on his memoir The Elephant To Hollywood - 11/2/2010

On Olivier, Jude Law, Sleuth and the class question

"He was the greatest actor in the world: stage, screen, everything. He was incredible. ... In actual fact, in real life, Larry was a lord. Before we started the film, he wrote me a little letter, a very nice letter, saying 'It has occurred to me, as I am a Lord, you may be wondering how to address me when we meet. When we do meet, Michael, from the moment we shake hands, I will be Larry forevermore,' which was lovely. He put me out of any sort of worry socially — but the idea that he had to do it is extraordinary and explains a very difficult thing, [which is] the class system in England. Because later, I did a remake of Sleuth playing Larry's part and Jude Law played the young seducer. ... But the idea that I'd write a letter to Jude saying 'You may be wondering how to address me when we first meet' — it shows how the class system changed over the number of years between those two movies."

7/21/10 - The Guardian

Kenneth Branagh in talks to star in Laurence Olivier-Marilyn Monroe film

Michelle Williams may also feature in film depicting squabbles between the two greats during the making of a 1957 movie

11/18/07 - The London Times

Michael Caine on Olivier and Sleuth:

...Caine admits that he made a complaint to the director about Olivier’s attempts to upstage him. “He told me not to lose sleep about it. He said, ‘Every time Larry has suggested I cut one of your lines, I have told him I will cut it in editing. Don’t worry, I will look after you.’ And he did.”

Yet Olivier grew more appreciative of Caine. “After one particular scene,” he recalls, “he put his arm around my shoulder and said, ‘When we started on this, I thought of you as a stooge. I now see I have a partner.’ He just took a little time to get used to me.” The breakthrough came when Olivier discovered Caine had a television in his dressing room. “He said, ‘How did you get that?’ I told him, ‘I asked for it.’ He would then join me to watch Wimbledon, and we got on famously. There was no messing around after that.” What, if anything, did he learn from Olivier? “Nothing specific, just how to take care of myself,” he says. “I have never given anyone advice, either. I had plenty in the past. It was always, ‘Give up.’ Free advice is usually worth nothing.”

11/2/07 - Movie City News - Dave Poland

Daniel Day-Lewis is the Olivier of his generation.

But this is a double-edged sword. Olivier was of the British school of stage acting, where his bravura performances brought the house down, as they would on film. But they were mannered and studied and always like watching the most beautiful piece of clockwork. His later-in-life performances were actually well underrated, as the style of acting changed so dramatically post-Brando. There are few performances as memorable as Szell in Marathon Man or the ultimate sweet old scoundrel in A Little Romance or even his Van Helsing in Badham’s Dracula. His vocal work and precision sliced through the screen and hit home, even when it was something as wild as The Boys From Brazil or The Jazz Singer.

The classic story is of Olivier watching Dustin Hoffman’s self-manipulations to give a performance as a broken man in Marathon Man, causing Olivier to intone, “Why not try acting, my boy?

5/16/07 - The Guardian - The Great Pretender The great pretender - A true dramatic chameleon, Laurence Olivier was arguably the last great Shakespearean lead. A hundred years after his birth, he is still the benchmark by which all modern theatre should be judged, writes Michael Billington
5/16/07 - - Flashback  A memoir by David Barry, who was a child actor appearing in Titus Andronicus with Olivier - "Scattered throughout this journal are flashbacks about his childhood experiences while touring Europe in the play Titus Andronicus with Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. David was fourteen at the time, and it was the summer of 1957 when Peter Brook's bloody production had people fainting in their seats."
12/18/06 - The NY Daily News - David Mamet

He rates Paul Newman as "the most beautiful man ever to grace the screen." But "I can't stand Laurence Olivier's acting. He is stiff, self-conscious, grudging, coy, and ungenerous.… In 'That Hamilton Woman,' he whispers and turns his face from the camera throughout; in '49th Parallel,' who knows what the deuce he is doing." He also presents the daring theory that Hollywood's creators suffered from a form of autism.

From the Nation, a review of a new Olivier Bio by David Thomson 12/2005 - Sixteen years after Laurence Olivier's death, here is the official biography, initiated by his widow, Joan Plowright, supported by his children and by a writer with access to a mass of private correspondence. Already reviewed in London, Olivier has come in for some heavy attacks, notably from Anthony Holden, the author of an unofficial Olivier biography and a writer well versed in show business material.
"Time" with Olivier More information on the play "Time." Do a right click and save as HERE to listen to an Mp3 recording of Oliver reciting the words - Side Two, # 8
TCM Olivier is the feature Spotlight of the Month at Turner Classic Movies. His films will show all day 8/12/04
The Guardian 7/28/04 - Olivier rises to new role
The Washington Post 3/16/04 - Du Maurier's 'Rebecca,' A Worthy 'Eyre' Apparent
The UK Telegraph is serializing John Giegud's correspondence (3/9/04) In October 1953, John Gielgud was arrested in Chelsea for soliciting, and fined £10. Many of his friends wrote letters of sympathy and support, among them Olivier -- . To Laurence Olivier 21 November, London -- "Your constant thought of me in my travail with all you have of your own to worry about has touched me so deeply - I cannot tell you how I have been helped and encouraged and above all by you and Viv and Ralph and Mu [Vivien Leigh, Ralph Richardson and his second wife, Meriel Forbes] - all of you have shown such heavenly tact and sympathy, the kind one can never forget or thank for adequately."
3/2/04 - The Guardian' - Darling boy, call me Larry'

(In 1969 Denis Quilley joined the National Theatre. In this exclusive extract from his memoirs, he recalls seeing Laurence Olivier forget his lines, Anthony Hopkins drunk on stage - and John Gielgud fall through a trap-door)

On Olivier -- "...Watching him work was like watching a terrier hunting a rat. He would spend hours nagging away at tiny pieces of business - lighting a cigar, lifting a drink - until they were second nature to the character. He grabbed O'Neill's script and never let go until he had beaten it into submission, and then he cherished it and loved it like a horse he had broken, which would now carry him wherever he wanted to go."

The NY Times 2/24/04 -- His Kingdom for a . . . Well, You Know What -- By PETER M. NICHOLS In a move that would traumatize studio planners today, Laurence Olivier's "Richard III" was shown on television on the same day in 1956 that it opened in movie theaters. In an essay with the DVD released today by Criterion, Bruce Eder writes that about 62.5 million viewers watched the film on NBC, more than had previously seen this Shakespeare play since it was first performed in 1592.

Not surprisingly, relatively few saw "Richard III" on the big screen, but the upside-down scheduling partly righted itself 10 years later when a rerelease did well at the box office. In subsequent years the film appeared drastically shortened. The Criterion version runs 158 minutes, which is within the 155 to 161 minutes variously listed for the original.

Russell Lees, a playwright and stage director, and John Wilders, former governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company, provide commentary. In his third Shakespeare screen adaptation (after "Henry V" in 1944 and "Hamlet" in 1948), Olivier added material from "Henry VI" to set historical context and, Mr. Lees says, gave the sets a surrealistic look to prepare audiences for the language.

In the role of the royal usurper who offers his kingdom for a horse, Olivier accidentally took an arrow in the leg while filming the battle scene on Bosworth Field. Elizabethan audiences found Richard's brisk, witty villainy deliciously attractive up to a point, and Olivier's performance is filled with dash and energy.

In the DVD commentary he is contrasted with Marlon Brando, also at his peak in the 50's. Mr. Brando formed characterizations within himself, but Olivier built them from bits and pieces of others he found outside. In an interview with the critic Kenneth Tynan on the second disc, he says: "I scavenge for that tiniest little bit of human circumstance. Observe it. Use it." 1955. $39.95.

You may buy through Amazon and my Amazon Associates HERE

Information on the musical "Time."

4/18/03 - The UK Guardian - David Mamet: "I can't stand Olivier"

Brideshead Revisited Available 6/25/02

DVD: 660 minutes, Five-Volume Boxed Set, $99.95
VHS: 660 minutes, Three-Volume Boxed Set, $79.95

The critics raved and viewers canceled everything on the night it aired. Brideshead Revisited, in short, is a television legend. Now in a better-than-ever digitally remastered presentation available for the first time on DVD in a Collector's Edition. Based on Evelyn Waugh's classic novel set in the glittering but fading world of the British aristocracy, the series stars Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews and Diana Quick and features sterling performances by British acting legends Sir John Gielgud, Claire Bloom and Sir Laurence Olivier. Both formats include the digitally remastered presentation. DVD features include a 16-page Brideshead Revisited Companion Guide, production notes and photo album, cast and crew biographies and a glimpse behind the gates of Castle Howard, the real Brideshead.

DVD UPC: 0-54961-5629-9-2 ISBN: 1-56938-562-9 Item: AMP-5629
VHS UPC: 0-54961-5610-3-2 ISBN: 1-56938-561-0 Item: AMP-5610

For further information, check out our website at or call 1-800-474-2277.

Spitting Image Olivier Puppeet for Auction

A satirical puppet of Sir Laurence used on the UK Spitting Image Television Show. On auction at Southeby's online

Description (guaranteed): Moulded latex puppet with part moulded/part wig hair, hand operated mouth, with full length, fully clothed foam latex and latex body

The Spitting Image puppets will be on view in Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, London, from Sunday July 9th through to Sunday July 16th. Sunday viewing is from 12 noon to 4:00pm, UK time, and weekday viewing is from 9:00am to 4:30pm, with evening viewing until 8:00pm on Monday 10th.

4/5/2000 - British Library Buys Laurence Olivier Archive

LONDON (Reuters) - The British Library said on Wednesday it had paid $1.59 million for the personal archive of celebrated British actor and director Laurence Olivier. The archive bought from Olivier's family contains correspondence with fellow 20th century icons Marilyn Monroe and Noel Coward and play scripts annotated by the late Olivier himself. ``This archive is beyond compare and documents the life and career of one of the greatest and most influential figures of twentieth century theater and film,'' the British Library said in a statement. It still owes the Olivier family $288,200 on the deal. The archive, already in the library's vaults, covers every facet of his personal and professional life. It traces his Old Vic Theater productions and Hollywood blockbusters of the 1930s -- including Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights -- through to Henry V and other Shakespeare films made in World War Two.

Olivier, who died in 1989, scooped two coveted Oscars for his 1948 film Hamlet. He also helped found Britain's first National Theater.