What is it? Laurence Olivier's adaptation of Shakespeare's most famous play. Olivier plays the eponymous Danish prince, tortured by the suspicion that his uncle murdered his father in order to usurp his throne and marry Hamlet's mother. Like, bummer.
Why did it win? It's tempting to conclude that the snub for Henry V two years before had quite a bit to do with it, and it probably did, but it's hard to outdo Shakespeare when it comes to attracting awards: you've got impeccable literary roots (high-brow, but familiar too); brilliant characterisation and writing; tragedy without cynicism and epic sweep all built in.
Did it deserve to win? Well, Olivier's not known as one of the best Shakespearean actors / directors of the last century for nothing, and this is a good interpretation of the greatest play ever written (even if he controversially left out Rosencrantz and Guildenstern). Still, the nominee that probably deserved to win was John Huston's Treasure of the Sierra Madre, closely followed by Powell & Pressburger's Red Shoes. Also out that year and not nominated were the Ingrid Bergman-starring Joan of Arc and Humphrey Bogart in Key Largo - once again, noir is overlooked.
Worth a look? Yes, but not as worthwhile as The Red Shoes or Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Or, for that matter, the David Tennant Hamlet of the last few months.