164. Henry V (1944)

Film 69 in C4 Top 100 War Films

A play within a play, but this isn’t Hamlet, but Laurence Olivier’s film of Henry V, with its combination of occasionally bawdy stage play mixed with action shots of Henry V’s greatest victory, the Battle of Agincourt.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of Shakespeare, so I’m not a complete philistine, but the opening scenes of constant overacting here are enough to put me off the Bard for good. Do we blame him or Olivier?

After more than an hour of luvviedom acting, and some dreadful scenes, mainly involving Robert Newton, who I’m afraid should have stuck with playing pirates, I was beginning to wonder where I could locate something sharp with which I could do myself some damage. The dauphin and the king of France were weasel-like and weak actors (the dauphin looked like an even more effete Larry Grayson) and to be honest, only Olivier added any gravitas to the film.

The bawdy scenes were the best bit. And no, I don’t wish to go once more unto the breach, thank you very much.


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