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The Lion in Winter (1968)

PG  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  30 October 1968 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 22,285 users  
Reviews: 169 user | 34 critic

1183 AD: King Henry II's three sons all want to inherit the throne, but he won't commit to a choice. They and his wife variously plot to force him.



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Won 3 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kenneth Ives ...
Queen Eleanor's Guard
Fran Stafford ...
Lady in Waiting
Ella More ...
Lady in Waiting
Kenneth Griffith ...
Strolling Player
Henry Woolf ...
Strolling Player
Karol Hagar ...
Strolling Player


Christmas 1183--an aging and conniving King Henry II plans a reunion where he hopes to name his successor. He summons the following people for the holiday: his scheming but imprisoned wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine; his mistress, Princess Alais, whom he wishes to marry; his three sons (Richard, Geoffrey, and John), all of whom desire the throne; and the young but crafty King Philip of France (who is also Alais' brother). With the fate of Henry's empire at stake, everybody engages in their own brand of deception and treachery to stake their claim. Written by <jgp3553@excite.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The most significant reserved seat attraction of the year!


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

30 October 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El león en invierno  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (70 mm)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)


(Eastmancolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to Anthony Harvey, the director of The Lion in Winter (1968), Katharine Hepburn kept the Oscar she received for the film in a paper bag and in a cupboard for years after he'd delivered it to her. See more »


At the beginning of the film, Henry compares his situation to that of King Lear. Although Shakespeare wrote King Lear more than 400 years after the death of Henry II, it was based on a legend of Leir of Britain as recounted by Geoffrey of Monmouth, who was alive in Henry II's day. See more »


[first lines]
Henry II: Come for me!
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

They Might Be Giants
21 December 2004 | by (Santa Monica, CA) – See all my reviews

The great film critic, Pauline Kael, chastised Hepburn in this film version of James Goldman's historical cat fight for exploiting the audience's emotional connection to her; for playing on her frailty. Further proof, that artistry is in the eye of the beholder. Ironically, years later, Hepburn, according to biographer Scott Berg, would criticize Meryl Streep for being too mannered. Of course, neither are the worse for the wear. Hepburn actually emerges triumphant in her portrayal of Eleonor of Acquitane and not least of which because we know the woman behind the artist; and know her to be a royal survivor in her own right.

Other criticism that has dogged this work is that James Goldman's dark satire is muddied by the layer of emotion and even sentiment that the movie develops. But as with the film version of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the enhanced emotional core of the story is a strong plus. To this end John Barry's forceful score lends great credibility as does Anthony Harvey's non stop strategic direction. Casting this powerful, writing this intelligent in the hands of a smart director makes this Lion unsurpassable to a stage production and certainly the unfortunate recent remake.

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