Physicality and imagination inspirited by an almost boyish bravado, an outmoded sense of courage and romance, gave life to Laurence Olivier’s performances, transforming a bland, enigmatic man into the English romantic image of the hero again and again. What detractor can deny the pure excitement of seeing him at his best – and excitement, perhaps, is the key. Olivier’s very facial muscles – the operation of his eyes, the athletic propulsion of his body – are electric, even if they are utterly calculated. To have seen a performance on stage or one preserved on film is to encounter a committed, thoroughbred artist.

That Hamilton Woman gives us the young actor at his dashing best and utterly in love with his ravishing co-star, Vivien Leigh. The chemistry between them, the ache, the pure delight they take in one another give the film a charge the average historical blockbuster almost never achieves.

Grade: A

That Hamilton Woman is currently available.