Sunday, 11 March 2007

Off with his head!

I had always thought, vaguely (the way I usually think), that the Queen of Hearts was the first to utter this command, but I was reminded the other day that several of Shakespeare’s characters got there first, as they had a way of doing with dozens of the phrases that clog our minds to this day.

One such character was Richard Plantagenet who (according to Thomas More and WS) was a wicked old crookback. Laurence Olivier played him with gusto, a sinister wig, a false nose and an extraordinary range of inflections* in the Old Vic 1944-49 production of Richard III, and then in the 1955 film, with Gielgud, Richardson and other top Shakespeareans of the day.

(Olivier could of course have put on a convincing limp at any time, but apparently this was made particularly easy for him here because during the shooting of the battle scenes a careless archer had shot him in the foot.)

I watched the DVD of this classic again the other day and wondered why I had never noticed before the apostrophe in the title. Why on earth did no-one else ever notice it when the rushes were shown?

[*Brilliantly taken off by Peter Sellers, who at one time had wanted to play the role seriously, in a 1965 TV Special on the Beatle’s music: “It has BEEN a hard day’s NIGHT…”]


Minerva said...

Have you heard the German version of Hard Day's night by Peter Sellers? 'She LUFFS you, Ya, Ya, Ya. '


Tony said...

No, missed that one.