The only version I've seen is
the 1982 BBC-TV version,
with Michael Hordern as Lear and Brenda Blethyn as Cordelia.
I liked this movie a lot. Hordern was excellent as Lear (he had
experience in the part, since he also played the King in the
1975 TV version),
and I really liked the performance of the actor who played the
Earl of Kent. (I can't find his name listed on the IMDB, and
can't for the life of me remember it from when I saw it; if anyone
knows his name please e-mail
me, with "King Lear" in the subject line.)
Internet Movie Database
lists only fourteen titles, seven theatrical releases and seven
made-for-TV versions. Plus, of the theatrical versions, two are
silent, one is in Russian,
and one is in Yiddish.
Good luck in finding them.
And, actually, the TV versions
look better than the theatrical versions:
of them is a 1953
version with Orson Welles (Welles starred as Lear, but Peter
Brook directed it). I don't know if it was really shown on TV
in 1953, or if IMDB lists it under "TV" because it
was primarily shot on black-and-white video. Plus, from what
I've read, Edmund and the Duke of Gloucester are completely omitted,
and one reviewer at IMDB says that Welles' costume "makes
him look like a refugee from Mystery Science Theater 3000."
Given the potentially dubious quality of this one, I think I'd
check the local video stores for it before shelling out the $17
or so to buy it.
1984 TV version looks very interesting, though. It's got Laurence
Olivier as Lear, John Hurt as the Fool, and Diana Rigg as Regan.
Olivier won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series
or Special for his performance (big surprise). The User Reviews
are decidedly mixed, however: IMDB users give it a 7.7 out of
ten, but Amazon.com users give it 2.5 out of five (although one
of the Amazon.com reviewers mistakenly refers to Olivier as the
director; Michael Elliot actually directed this version).
most recent version is a British
TV version starring Ian Holm as Lear, made in 1997 or 1998,
depending on which source you're using (IMDB puts it at '97,
Amazon.com as '98). I'd also be interested in seeing this because
it has Paul Rhys as Edgar; I was really impressed with Rhys when
I saw him in a miniseries called Gallowglass
that ran on PBS' Mystery!
a few years ago. But this is another one that I'm going to check
the video stores for first, since it runs about $30.
Finally, there's an interesting
1974 version with
James Earl Jones as Lear, Paul Sorvino as Gloucester, Rene Auberjonois
as Edgar, and Raul Julia as Edmund. This is listed as a straight-to-video
version with IMDB, but I can't find any other information about
it. If you've seen this version, or have any other details about
it, please email me.
Also note that the IMDB lists
one 1987 "version" of King Lear that has little to
do with the original play. It's directed by Jean-Luc Goddard,
written by Goddard and Norman Mailer, and stars Woody Allen,
Julie Delpy, Burgess Meredith, Molly Ringwald, and Norman and
Kate Mailer (playing themselves). While that's an awful lot of
talent, the move was produced and released by Menahem Golan and
Yorum Globus, who also brought us such "treats" as Superman IV:Quest for
Ninja 2:The Confrontation, and Death
Wish 4:The Crackdown (which makes me wonder if this movie
shouldn't be called "Lear II:The King Strikes Back").