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Henry IV Part II (1979)
"The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth, Containing His Death and the Coronation of King Henry the Fift" (original title)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama  |  16 December 1979 (UK)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 94 users  
Reviews: 7 user

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry, Prince of Wales
Rob Edwards ...
Martin Neil ...
Roger Davenport ...
Thomas, Duke of Clarence
Bruce Purchase ...
David Neal ...
Michael Miller ...
Lord Mowbray
Richard Bebb ...
Lord Hastings
John Humphry ...
Salvin Stewart ...
David Strong ...
Carl Oatley ...
Rod Beacham ...
David Buck ...


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Release Date:

16 December 1979 (UK)  »

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Henry IV Part II  »

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The development of Finch's Bolingbroke makes R2, H4 pt 1 and H4 pt 2 superlative
11 July 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Several people have commented on the strong performance Jon Finch gives in the BBC versions of Richard II, Henry IV pt. 1 or Henry IV pt. 2. On first watching I thought Finch an odd choice as Bolingbroke opposite Jacobi's Richard, since Richard needs to have the more elegance and grace of the two for the play to work well. But Jacobi manages an effeteness that works surprisingly well against Finch's robustness. As the play goes on, it's Finch's nuanced performance that catches the attention. He sustains the performance powerfully and subtly through the 3 play sequence - interestingly, a previous commenter saw King Henry as focal point of the Henry IV plays with Falstaff and Prince Hal at the margin, a reversal the usual critical take on the play and the impression it makes when read. Individually each of the plays have excellent performances (Jacobi's Richard, Gray's York, Quayle's Falstaff) but it's all three taken together that achieve the extraordinary, with Finch's development from calculating ambition to success that fails to satisfy to diseased and guilt-tormented disillusionment, at its center. This is one of the more memorable Shakepearean performances I've seen on film. As for production values ("stagey" comments), though the budget was low it was spent in effective ways, excellently researched and executed costuming and simple, but appropriate, sets. Production and acting are "stage"/technique-y, but this works with the plays' larger than life characters and language especially the rhymed verse of RII. These actors speak the difficult language admirably. The three plays, along with Measure for Measure and perhaps Hamlet, are the best in the BBC Shakespeare series, all in all.

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