Laurence Olivier's Richard III: Titles and Opening Scenes

David Garrick's Heir

Laurence Olivier opens his 1955 Richard III with stirring tympani and trumpets and titles reading "Laurence Olivier Presents Richard III by William Shakespeare With some interpolations by David Garrick Colley Cibber etc." Viewers unfamiliar with English theater history might suppose that Garrick and Cibber were screenwriters and that the title resembles the one that supposedly opened the 1929 Taming of the Shrew with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and Mary Pickford: "Written by William Shakespeare with additional dialogue by Sam Taylor." (Erskine 341). In fact, Garrick was an eighteenth-century actor and Cibber an eighteenth-century playwright, and Olivier's reference to them gives us our first hint about the relationship between his movie and Shakespeare's play.

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