Henry V (1946): Olivier’s Oscar Nominated Screen Adaptation

United Artists (UK, J. Arthur Rank-Two Cities Films)


Not many historical epics were made in Hollywood in the 1940s, which is why David Lean’s masterpiece “Great Expectations” and Laurence Olivier’s screen adaptations of Shakespeare, Henry V in 1946, and Hamlet two years later, stood out in the American film scene and were honored by the Academy with Oscar nominations and awards.   “Henry V,” the more experimental of the two, was shot in Technicolor and blended stylized as well as realistic conventions. 


The movie begins at the Globe Theater, where the actors prepare for the performance, then switches to a more realistic setting, including one spectacularly photographed battle scene. 


“Henry V” was nominated for four Oscars but did not win any awards.  Laurence Olivier received a Special Oscar for his “outstanding achievement as actor, producer and director.” 


Oscar Nominations: 4


Picture, produced by Laurence Olivier

Actor: Laurence Olivier

Interior Decoration (Color): Paul Sheriff and Carmen Dillon

Scoring: William Walton


Oscar Awards: None


Oscar Context


William Wyler’s “The Best Years of Our Lives” swept most of the Oscars in 1946, including Picture, Director, Actor for Fredric March, and Scoring for Hugo Friedlander.  The Art Direction Oscar went to “The Yearling,” which was also nominated for Best Picture.  The other two Best Picture nominees were Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Razor’s Edge.”