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The Private Life of Henry VIII. (1933)

King Henry VIII marries five more times after his divorce from his first wife Catherine of Aragon.

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(story and dialogue) (as Lajos Biro), (story and dialogue) | 1 more credit »
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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:
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Franklin Dyall ...
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Laurence Hanray ...
Archbishop Cranmer (as Lawrence Hanray)
William Austin ...
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Cornell (as Claude Allister)
Gibb McLaughlin ...
The French Executioner (as Gibb Mc.Laughlin)
Sam Livesey ...
The English Executioner
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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 »


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Details

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Release Date:

21 September 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La vida privada de Enrique VIII  »

Box Office

Budget:

£60,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Charles Laughton (Henry VIII) and Elsa Lanchester (Anne of Cleves) were married in real life. See more »

Goofs

Whilst accurately showing Anne Boleyn's execution by a specially requested swordsman from France, rather than an ax, the film shows the fixing of a block to the scaffold. A block is not used in decapitations by sword. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
King Henry VIII: Six wives, and the best of them's the worst.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: Henry VIII had six wives. Catherine of Aragon was the first; but her story is of no particular interest - she was a respectable woman-so Henry divorced her. He then married Anne Boleyn. This marriage also was a failure-but not for the same reason. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Matador: I Disse Tider (1979) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Setting A High Standard
11 December 2005 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

In watching The Private Life of Henry VIII it's good to remember that we are talking about his private life. The reasons of state and the impact all the marriages had on Tudor foreign and domestic politics is not dealt with her at all. For a balanced treatment of that I would highly recommend watching the BBC mini-series with Keith Michell.

In fact it was all politics and religion and the mix of the two that was involved in Henry VIII's first marriage and the divorce. That was what led to the English break away from the Roman Catholic Church and the founding of the Anglican church. In this film Catherine of Aragon, wife number one, is dismissed as "a good woman."

The film begins with the execution of Number 2, Anne Boleyn, who failed in her duty to provide a male royal heir. Number 3, Jane Seymour did so at the cost of her own life when she died in childbirth. Both Merle Oberon and Wendy Barrie who played both of these women respectively make brief, but lasting impressions.

Wife Number 4 is Anne of Cleves and were not sure exactly why Henry VIII found her so unappealing. Reportedly the portrait sent to the English court of her before the marriage was brokered was shall we say, exaggerated advertisement. This vacuum of knowledge gives Elsa Lanchester a great opportunity for some scatterbrained comedy that she so excelled at. It comes as a comic interlude in an otherwise grim film. The things Henry does for England.

Wife Number 5 is Catherine Howard, reputedly a young girl with some nymphomaniac tendencies. Binnie Barnes as Catherine Howard is a good deal more virtuous, but just as ambitious as the real Catherine. In truth Thomas Culpepper played by Robert Donat was only one of a series of lovers with whom she cheated with. And doing that to the King had only one remedy.

Charles Laughton one an Oscar for this performance and set a standard for playing Henry VIII. Some of the others that followed and all of them doing it well are Montagu Love, Richard Burton, Robert Shaw, James Robertson Justice and Keith Michell. Yet Laughton's is the performance all others are measured by.

Robert Donat got his first real notice playing Thomas Culpepper and of course went on to a great, but limited career because of his chronic asthma. Some of the cerebral qualities that went into all of his lead roles are definitely found in Culpepper.

But despite Donat and the wives the film is Laughton's. Laughton was only 34 when this film was made about a decade at least younger than the real Henry VIII. And folks did age faster in Henry's time than in Laughton's. I've always thought that the key to Henry VIII was the fact he wanted to stay young forever. He wouldn't accept growing old as a fact of life that even monarchs aren't immune from.

We should remember the film is about his private life and it is Laughton's portrayal of the private Henry that has made this film a classic.


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