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Sir Laurence Olivier on Movies, Money and Mortality

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Sir Laurence Olivier as General Douglas MacArthur

Throughout his long and distinguished career, Sir Laurence Olivier directed and/or appeared in numerous classic films and stage productions, but by the end of his career, as is the case with Terence Young’s infamous film Inchon (1982), he was forthright about his priorities for appearing in any film at all, as long as the paycheck was satisfactory. As he told an interviewer during the making of the film,

“People ask me why I’m playing in this picture. The answer is simple. Money, dear boy. I’m like a vintage wine. You have to drink me quickly before I turn sour. I’m almost used up now and I can feel the end coming. That’s why I’m taking money now. I’ve got nothing to leave my family but the money I can make from films. Nothing is beneath me if it pays well. I’ve earned the right to damn well grab whatever I can in the time I’ve got left.”


About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of thirty books and more than 100 articles on film, and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at 402.472.6064 or Visit him at his website,

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