Friday, July 15, 2011

Spotlight On: Laurence Olivier

This week's spotlight is on Sir Laurence Olivier, a man who is often considered to be one of the greatest actors of all time, and certainly one of the greatest Shakespearean actors. While I do love him in his Shakespeare roles, I love him even more in the other types of films that he is done. In his younger years he played a lot of literary romantic heroes, and in his older years he played some great villains. He has worked with some of my favorite directors, like Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick, and has also appeared in film adaptations of some of my favorite books. As a bonus, in his younger days, he was also incredibly handsome... Here are some of my favorite films/ roles of his.

Fire Over England
This was the first film that Olivier did with his (future) wife Vivien Leigh. It is said that it was during this film that they first fell in love and became the Brad and Angelina of their time. Here Olivier plays a British man who becomes a spy for Queen Elizabeth. While I didn't much care for this movie as a whole, I thought that Flora Robson was a great Elizabeth, and that the scenes with Larry and Viv were cute.

The Divorce of Lady X

I thought that it was funny to see Olivier in this kind of role, because you don't see him much in romantic comedies. This is the type of role that you would normally see Cary Grant in. Having said that, I thought that this movie was actually really funny, and made me wish that Larry would have done more roles like this. My favorite scene was when he was first talking to the man who he believed was Merle Oberon's husband. Whats really neat about this movie is that its the only color picture that I've seen with him when he was this young.

Wuthering Heights
Now onto my favorite film adaptation of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. I love love love this movie and have probably posted about it a million or so times already. Olivier is wonderful as Heathcliff, a man who goes from lovesick stable boy to revenge seeking aristocrat after the love of his life abandons him to marry a rich man. And even though the words are changed a little, he is my favorite actor to ever recite Heathcliff's "I cannot live without my life" speech.

In 1940, Olivier starred in one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock films. He plays a rich man who is still haunted by the memory of his dead wife, even after remarrying.

Pride and Prejudice
In this adaptation of Jane Austen's famous novel, Olivier, of course, plays Mr. Darcy. Although I was disappointed in how they made Mr. Darcy's aunt seem like a good guy in this version, I do really like this movie. Oliver made a perfect Mr. Darcy.

That Hamilton Woman
Here is another film that paired Olivier and Vivien Leigh, who by this time was his wife. This movie was very gloomy and had an unhappy ending for both characters, but like Fire Over England, I loved all the scenes with the two of them together.

Henry V
Not my favorite of Shakespeare's plays, but Olivier is great as the title character. What's neat about this movie is that it starts out as an actual play in the film and then transitions into the film settings. This movie also has great use of Technicolor, so it all looks amazing!

Laurence Olivier is the only actor to ever win an Oscar for playing a Shakespearean role, and he did so for playing Hamlet. I thought that it was odd that this version didn't include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, but to be honest, if I had never read Hamlet I wouldn't have even noticed. I thought that this was a great film adaptation of the famous plays, and one of Olivier's best performances.

The Prince and the Showgirl
This is a comedy that he did with the lovely Marilyn Monroe. There is actually a movie coming out sometime this year that is about Monroe while she works on this film. Monroe will be played by Michelle Williams, and Olivier will be played by Kenneth Branagh. I thought that Branaugh was an interesting choice because he has also done a bunch of Shakespearean films. I think that this is one of Monroe's best performances, and Olivier is great as the stuffy Regent who courts her.

I was so disappointed when I found out that my favorite scene in this movie doesn't have Olivier's actual voice. Something was wrong with the audio when they restored this scene to the movie, so they had his voice dubbed by Anthony Hopkins because Olivier had already passed away. I must say that Hopkins does a great job, though, because I had no idea the first time I watched it. If there wasn't the stupid Production Code at the time, then this could have been in the original cut of the film, and we could hear Olivier's actual voice in this scene.

I love this movie! It is so cool because it only has two actors, Olivier and Michael Caine, and they are both brilliant. What I really love about this movie is that I can't really decide which one is the bad guy. I kept switching back and forth between the two. Olivier really gets to show his vicious side when he makes Caine's character think that he is going to kill him. Love it!

Marathon Man
Olivier REALLY gets vicious in this film, where he plays a Nazi who tortures Dustin Hoffman with dental tools while asking "Is it safe?" I already hate going to the dentist, and after watching this movie, it just makes me even more nervous...

Clash of the Titans
Here Olivier plays Zeus, leader of all the gods. Even though the special effects are totally cheesy, I do have to admit that this movie is kind of a guilty pleasure for me.

1 comment:

  1. I like this post, the difficult is find these movies in my language, but I will try. Thanks.