Best Picture Winners Part 21 (of 87): Hamlet


Title: Hamlet
Year: 1948
Starring: Laurence Olivier, John Laurie, Jean Simmons   
Director: Laurence Olivier
Runtime: 2 hr 33 mins

Is It Any Good?: It’s a masterwork. Olivier clearly loves this story written by William Shakespeare and revolving around the Prince of Denmark and following his royal father’s death. Jean Simmons is great (Oscar nominated) as the doomed Ophelia. Olivier uses grand sets, and even grander language (sticking mostly to the Bards play) to tell the story. The dead king’s voice and subsequent “appearance” is one of the most interesting visuals in any 40’s film. Several times throughout this I worried I’d fall asleep, but somehow through the renaissance English, black and white cinematography, and slow pacing I was “in” it the whole time. That’s a testament to the st the time newly knighted Olivier and his keen directing.

Memorable Quote: Horatio: Good night, sweet prince; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Competition: 1948 started with Johnny Belinda in which Jane Wyman (who could’ve been a first lady!) carries the weight of this films heavy subject matter on her tiny shoulders, and for it she won the Oscar for Best Actress. Visually stunning and ahead of it’s time The Red Shoes  is a master class in the fantastical looking. Featuring some of the most breathtaking technicolor visuals of it or any time. Olivia De Havilland shines in an eerie feminine precursor to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest  with her turn in The Snake Pit. Lastly John Huston wins not only another Oscar for Best Director himself but also leads his father to a Best Supporting Actor win, and I think it’s a crime Humphrey Bogart didn’t get a nomination himself for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. 

1949 is upon us and who knows what’s in store when we watch a classic of this era that got ruined by a more contemporary remake. Stay tuned for this one fellow Snobs, should be a fun ride! And tell your friends!

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