I don’t know how many Shakespeare plays Laurence Olivier appeared in on the boards, but on film he has played all the biggies: Lear, Shylock, Othello, Hamlet. I’ve seen them all, and to me this is his crowning achievement. He had me utterly spellbound from his first opening soliloquy, and kept me right through to the end. Not only is it superbly acted, with supporting players like Ralph Richardson, John Gielgud, and Claire Bloom, the production is gorgeous, and it is highly cinematic, something you don’t always expect from an actor trained for the stage. Richard’s menacing, hunchbacked shadow often precedes him into a scene, and often lingers in a scene after he has left. This is a masterpiece, one of the best adaptations of Shakespeare for the screen that has ever been made.