This Hamlet, which earned Laurence Olivier two Oscars, for Best Picture and Best Actor, is one of the most intensely (and self-admittedly) psychological film productions ever made of any classic play. At two-and-a-half hours, it’s also long — despite the fact that Olivier excised significant characters from the text, including Rosencrantz and Guildenstern entirely. But long or not, this is a fascinating and rewarding film; watching a lithe, relatively young, obviously fully invested Olivier tackle this most complex of all Shakespeare’s roles is like watching a legendary athlete in his prime. No one else can touch him.
See also: The BBCs’ 1980 version, starring Derek Jacobi, is terrific, as is Kenneth Branagh’s stellar 1996 production, in which Jacobi plays Claudius, and Julie Christie is the most seductive Gertrude ever.