Diaries and Letters 1945-62

Source: Harold Nicolson (ed. Nigel Nicolson), Diaries and Letters 1945-62 (London: Collins, 1968), pp. 291-292

Text: 14th December 1955
C.1 Albany, W.1

I went with Baba, the Douglas Fairbankses and the Walter Moncktons to the first night of Olivier’s Richard III. The Queen was there, radiant in pink and diamonds. Oh, I did love the film so! They took John Gielgud by the heels and pushed him head-forward into a butt of Malvoisie; they cut off Hastings’ head on a block; they strangled the young princes; and in the end off they went to Bosworth Field which, for film-purposes, was situated in the vicinity of Madrid with a distant line of Castilian mountains – not one little bit like Shropshire. But Olivier was superb, really superb, and in the end he is cut to pieces and thrown over the back of a packhorse and carried away a bleeding corpse quite dead. The crown is found under a bush and placed on the head of Henry Tudor. Oh my word, what a film! Then off we all went to supper with Douglas Fairbanks. Twenty-one people, including the Oliviers.

Comments: Harold Nicolson (1886-1968) was a British diplomat, politician and diarist. Richard III (1955), adapted from Shakespeare’s play, was directed by and starred Laurence Olivier. John Gielgud played the Duke of Clarence. The Battle of Bosworth was indeed filmed in Spain. The film was premiered at Leicester Square Theatre, London on 13 December 1955. Despite the presence of Queen Elizabeth II, it was not a Royal Film Performance.

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