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The Private Life of Henry VIII. (1933)

7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 2,425 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 25 critic

Tells how King Henry VIII came to marry five more times after his divorce from his first wife.

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(story) (as Lajos Biro) , (story), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Private Life of Henry VIII. (1933)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Franklin Dyall ...
...
Laurence Hanray ...
Archbishop Cranmer (as Lawrence Hanray)
William Austin ...
John Loder ...
Claud Allister ...
Cornell (as Claude Allister)
Gibb McLaughlin ...
The French Executioner
Sam Livesey ...
The English Executioner
...
Wendy Barrie ...
...
Binnie Barnes ...
Everley Gregg ...
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Storyline

This movie tells the story of King Henry VIII and the last five of his six wives. Set almost entirely within the royal castle, it begins just before the death of his second wife (Anne Boleyn) and ends just after his sixth wedding (to Catherine or Katherine Parr). Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

HE GAVE HIS WIVES A PAIN IN THE NECK And did his necking with an axe. Henry, the Eighth Wonder of the World! And this picture...the wonder of all time! See more »


Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 September 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Privatleben Heinrichs VIII.  »

Box Office

Budget:

£60,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

While he was on a tour of Europe, American professional wrestler Man Mountain Dean was hired to be Charles Laughton's uncredited stunt double. This would be the first of Dean's appearances in motion pictures. See more »

Goofs

When Henry has Wriothesley on the table, Wriothesley's hand goes from the table to his throat between shots. See more »

Quotes

[Henry's fourth wedding night]
King Henry VIII: My wife? Huh... not yet.
Anne of Cleves: Poor mother told me... first he says the marriage is no good, and then he cuts off the head with an ax chopper!
King Henry VIII: That is an exaggeration, madam.
Anne of Cleves: Then why do you say I am not yet your wife?
King Henry VIII: Well, madam, uh, a marriage ceremony doesn't make us one.
Anne of Cleves: Mmm?
[shows her ring]
King Henry VIII: Oh, yes, yes, yes, 's all right, but you, uh, have to, umm, I have to...
Anne of Cleves: What?
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Thru the Mirror (1936) See more »

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User Reviews

An enjoyably boisterous Henry in a funny, interesting and surprisingly sensitive film
28 June 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

During his reign, Henry the Eighth had six wives. The first of these was Catherine of Aragon but her story is of no particular interest as she was a decent and respectable woman – so Henry only divorced her. However his next wife was a different matter altogether and we join the story on the day of Anne Boleyn is getting her neck ready for the executioner's block. Henry is a boisterous king who, no matter how bad his many marriage experiences, cannot seem to avoid getting married again; as he himself says, 'the things I do for England'!

When I taped this film I had never heard of it but before watching it was told that it was a great moneymaker of the time in the US. I wasn't sure if this was a very historic film or a fun film but the opening credit title made me realize it would be a sort of humorous historical piece – it is practically the sort of title card that appears before many Laurel & Hardy shorts! True to form the film takes liberties with history but does so to the benefit of the film, making it very funny and rather larger than life (not that hard a subject given Henry's life!) but not to the point where it is just a comedy – no, it is better written than that. Instead it manages to present this big boisterous life in a balanced way – when events are funny, they are funny but on the flipside it also lets us see that Henry is lonely, trapped by affairs of state and rather a big child at times. It is hard to describe but this film managed to run a gauntlet of emotions in a way that I was pretty impressed by. The very good writing has prevented it dating at all and it is just as enjoyable as it was then – in fact I can't think of a film that I have been more pleasantly surprised by for quite a while – how ironic that it is over 70 years old!

Outside of the script and direction, a massive reason that this film works is a great performance from Laughton. His Henry is fantastically lively and energetic without ever going completely OTT. He manages to deliver his funny lines with great timing and awareness but also delivers a real character who we can feel for – he conveys real hurt and loneliness with just looks at times, and his tearful breakdown is actually quite moving. He is given good support from many small roles who are given good parts – even the observers at the executions have great lines! The 39 Steps' Robert Donat gives good support in a straighter and less showy role and the various member of Henry's court are reliable. However the film belongs to Laughton and he runs it, realising the script's potential and then some.

Overall I came to this film not sure what to expect and I was very surprised by just how enjoyable and well rounded it was. Historians may be irritated by a rather generous interpretation of history but the basics are all there and the writer's touch has only really added colour and a sense of fun to the story. The script is packed with material that is funny and telling at different points and it is delivered with real confidence and ability by Laughton in a performance that dominates the film and is a major reason I enjoyed it as much as I did.


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