Three Sisters (1970 film)

Last updated

Three Sisters
Three Sisters 1970 DVD cover.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Laurence Olivier
John Sichel
Screenplay by Moura Budberg (trans.)
Based on Three Sisters (play)
by Anton Chekhov
Produced by James C. Katz & John Goldstone
Starring Alan Bates
Laurence Olivier
Joan Plowright
Cinematography Geoffrey Unsworth
Edited by Jack Harris
Music by William Walton
Distributed by British Lion Films
Release dates
2 November 1970 (UK)
4 February 1974 (US)
Running time
165 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Three Sisters is a 1970 British drama film starring Alan Bates, Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright, based on the 1901 play by Anton Chekhov. Olivier also directed, with co-director John Sichel; it was the final feature film directed by Olivier. The film was based on a 1967 theatre production that Olivier had directed at the Royal National Theatre. Both the theatrical production and the film used the translation from the original Russian by Moura Budberg. [1] The film was released in the U.S. in 1974 as part of the American Film Theatre. This was a series of thirteen film adaptations of stage plays shown to subscribers at about 500 movie theaters across the country.




The film was apparently not widely reviewed in either its 1970 British or its 1974 US releases. Following the US release, the prominent critic Judith Crist wrote, "Once again we are faced with a neither-film-nor-play production, but it is, in Moura Budberg's liberal but satisfying translation and under Olivier's semi-cinematic direction, one at very least to fascinate devotees of the play. ... Through several performances, in Geoffrey Unsworth's luscious cinematography (and I mean the adjective in praise of the uncluttered and naturally generated flow his work deserves), and in the pacing there is somehow a sensuality and a sexuality underlying the work that I had not hitherto felt." [2] Molly Haskell wrote that the film "boasts in Joan Plowright's Masha the finest performance I have seen or ever hope to see of one of Chekhov's greatest women characters." [3]

Home video

The film was first released as a region 1 DVD in 2004. [4] A Blu-ray version was released in the US in 2017. [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anton Chekhov</span> Russian dramatist and author (1860–1904)

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian playwright and short-story writer who is considered to be one of the greatest writers of all time. His career as a playwright produced four classics, and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics. Along with Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg, Chekhov is often referred to as one of the three seminal figures in the birth of early modernism in the theatre. Chekhov was a physician by profession. "Medicine is my lawful wife", he once said, "and literature is my mistress."

Laurence Olivier English actor and director (1907–1989)

Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, was an English actor and director who, along with his contemporaries Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud, was one of a trio of male actors who dominated the British stage of the mid-20th century. He also worked in films throughout his career, playing more than fifty cinema roles. Late in his career, he had considerable success in television roles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joan Plowright</span> British actress

Joan Ann Olivier, Baroness Olivier,, professionally known as Dame Joan Plowright, is an English retired actress whose career has spanned over seven decades. She has won two Golden Globe Awards and a Tony Award and has been nominated for an Academy Award, an Emmy and two BAFTA Awards. She was the second of only four actresses to have won two Golden Globes in the same year. She won the Laurence Olivier Award for Actress of the Year in a New Play in 1978 for Filumena.

<i>The Seagull</i> 1895 play by Anton Chekhov

The Seagull is a play by Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov, written in 1895 and first produced in 1896. The Seagull is generally considered to be the first of his four major plays. It dramatises the romantic and artistic conflicts between four characters: the famous middlebrow story writer Boris Trigorin, the ingenue Nina, the fading actress Irina Arkadina, and her son the symbolist playwright Konstantin Treplev.

<i>Three Sisters</i> (play) Play by Anton Chekhov

Three Sisters is a play by the Russian author and playwright Anton Chekhov. It was written in 1900 and first performed in 1901 at the Moscow Art Theatre. The play is sometimes included on the short list of Chekhov's outstanding plays, along with The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull and Uncle Vanya.

<i>Uncle Vanya</i> Play by Anton Chekhov

Uncle Vanya is a play by the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. It was first published in 1898, and was first produced in 1899 by the Moscow Art Theatre under the direction of Konstantin Stanislavski.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Daphne Heard</span> British actress (1904–1983)

Delia Phyllis Daphne Heard was an English actress and acting teacher. She was born in Plymouth, Devon. She was perhaps best known in latter years as Richard's elderly mother Mrs. Polouvicka in To the Manor Born.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Judy Parfitt</span> British actress (b. 1935)

Judy Catherine Claire Parfitt is an English theatre, film and television actress. She made her film debut in a minor supporting part in Information Received (1961), followed by supporting role in the BBC television serial David Copperfield (1966). She also appeared as Queen Gertrude in Tony Richardson's 1969 film adaptation of Hamlet.

<i>The Entertainer</i> (film) 1960 British film

The Entertainer is a 1960 British kitchen sink drama film directed by Tony Richardson, produced by Harry Saltzman and adapted by John Osborne and Nigel Kneale from Osborne’s stage play of the same name. The film stars Laurence Olivier as Archie Rice, a failing third-rate music-hall stage performer who tries to keep his career going even as the music-hall tradition fades into history and his personal life falls apart. It was filmed on location in the Lancashire seaside town of Morecambe. Olivier was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

Filumena Marturano, sometime performed in English as The Best House in Naples, is a play written in 1946 by Italian playwright, actor and poet Eduardo De Filippo. It is the basis for the 1950 Spanish language Argentine musical film Filomena Marturano, multiple Italian adaptations under its original title, and the 1964 film Marriage Italian Style.

Chichester Festival Theatre Theatre in Chichester, West Sussex, England

Chichester Festival Theatre is a theatre and Grade II* listed building situated in Oaklands Park in the city of Chichester, West Sussex, England. Designed by Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya, it was opened by its founder Leslie Evershed-Martin in 1962. The smaller and more intimate Minerva Theatre was built nearby in 1989.

<i>The Entertainer</i> (play) 1957 production by John Osborne

The Entertainer is a three-act play by John Osborne, first produced in 1957. His first play, Look Back in Anger, had attracted mixed notices but a great deal of publicity. Having depicted an "angry young man" in the earlier play, Osborne wrote at Laurence Olivier's request about an angry middle-aged man in The Entertainer. Its main character is Archie Rice, a failing music-hall performer. Years later, Tony Richardson, who directed The Entertainer's premiere season, described Archie as "the embodiment of a national mood ... Archie was the future, the decline, the sourness, the ashes of old glory, where Britain was heading". The first performance was given on 10 April 1957 at the Royal Court Theatre, London. This theatre was well-known for its commitment to new and non-traditional drama, and the inclusion of a West End star such as Olivier in the cast caused much interest.

Moura Budberg Russian adventuress

Maria Ignatievna Budberg — also known as Countess Benckendorff and Baroness Budberg — was a Russian adventuress and suspected double agent of the Soviet Union secret police (OGPU) and British Intelligence Service.

John Peter Sichel was a British director of film, stage and television, and, later in life, a film, television, and theatre trainer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">American Film Theatre</span> Former United States film production company

From 1973 to 1975, using approximately 500 movie theaters across the US, The American Film Theatre presented two seasons of film adaptations of well-known plays. Each film was shown only four times at each theatre. By design, these were not films of stage productions — they were plays "translated to the film medium, but with complete faithfulness to the original play script." Filmgoers generally subscribed to an entire season of films, as they might if they purchased a season's tickets for a conventional stage theater. About 500,000 subscriptions were sold for the first season of eight plays using direct mail and newspaper advertising. Ely Landau was the producer for the series.

Summerfolk is a play by Maxim Gorky written in 1904 and first published in 1905 by Znaniye, in Saint Petersburg.

<i>Orsons Shadow</i>

Orson's Shadow is a play by Austin Pendleton. The play received a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for Outstanding Play and won the Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance.

<i>The Sea Gull</i> 1968 film by Sidney Lumet

The Sea Gull is a 1968 British-American drama film directed by Sidney Lumet. The screenplay by Moura Budberg is adapted and translated from Anton Chekhov's classic 1896 play The Seagull.

<i>Uncle Vanya</i> (1963 film) 1963 British film

Uncle Vanya is a 1963 British film adaptation of the 1899 play Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov. The film was directed by Laurence Olivier and Stuart Burge. It was a filmed version of the Chichester Festival Theatre production, starring Laurence Olivier as Astrov, Michael Redgrave as (Vanya), Rosemary Harris as (Elena), and Joan Plowright as (Sonya).

<i>Rhinoceros</i> (Orson Welles production)

Rhinoceros was a 1960 production of Eugène Ionesco's surrealist play of the same name, which had been written the year before. It was the first English-language production of the play, starred future husband-and-wife team Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright, and was directed by Orson Welles. Olivier also co-produced the play, which was Welles's last work as a theatre director.


  1. Chekhov, Anton Pavlovich (1971). The Three Sisters. Moura Budberg (trans.). London: Davis-Poynter. ISBN   9780706700046. OCLC   10864445.
  2. Crist, Judith (11 March 1974). "Movies/Judith Crist". New York Magazine. p. 79.
  3. Haskell, Holly (14 March 1974). "Chekhov: A Feminist Vision". The Village Voice. p. 72.
  4. The Three Sisters (DVD (region 1)). Kino International Corporation. 2008. OCLC   841312340.
  5. Orndorf, Brian (8 June 2017). "Three Sisters Blu-ray Review".