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The Private Life of Henry VIII. (1933)

Not Rated | | Biography, Comedy, Drama | 21 September 1933 (USA)
King Henry VIII marries five more times after his divorce from his first wife Catherine of Aragon.

Director:

Alexander Korda

Writers:

Lajos Biró (story and dialogue) (as Lajos Biro), Arthur Wimperis (story and dialogue) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Laughton ... Henry VIII
Robert Donat ... Thomas Culpeper
Franklin Dyall ... Thomas Cromwell
Miles Mander ... Wriothesley
Lawrence Hanray Lawrence Hanray ... Archbishop Cranmer
William Austin ... Duke of Cleves
John Loder ... Peynell
Claud Allister ... Cornell (as Claude Allister)
Gibb McLaughlin ... The French Executioner (as Gibb Mc.Laughlin)
Sam Livesey ... The English Executioner
Merle Oberon ... Anne Boleyn - The Second Wife
Wendy Barrie ... Jane Seymour - The Third Wife
Elsa Lanchester ... Anne of Cleves - The Fourth Wife
Binnie Barnes ... Katherine Howard - The Fifth Wife
Everley Gregg ... Katherine Parr - The Sixth Wife
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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:

A STORY OF A GAY KING WHO HAD SIX QUEENS (Print ad- Albany Times-Union, ((Albany, NY)) 18 November 1933) See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright in the U.S. after the initial 28 year period resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. However, due to changes in copyright laws, as a non-U.S. film still in copyright in its country of origin, the film's U.S. copyright was automatically restored in 1996 with a term of 95 years - meaning will will expire at the end of 2028. See more »

Goofs

Anne of Cleves compares Henry to the legend of Bluebeard, a literary work not known to exist before 1697. See more »

Quotes

King Henry VIII: Well Thomas, what do you think of the new queen?
Thomas Culpeper: Wonderful, your majesty.
King Henry VIII: Beautiful?
Thomas Culpeper: Lovely.
King Henry VIII: Clever, too?
Thomas Culpeper: A miracle of good sense, your majesty.
King Henry VIII: Liar!
[slaps Thomas's face and laughs]
King Henry VIII: No, Thomas, not clever, thanks be to heaven. My first wife was clever, my second was ambitious, but my third... Thomas, if you want to be happy, marry a girl like my sweet little Jane. Marry a stupid woman! Ha ha ha...
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

Spoofed in Oliver the Eighth (1934) See more »

User Reviews

 
Henry Was Hard On His Ladies
7 May 2005 | by slokesSee all my reviews

Love and absolute power are two things that bring out the worst in people. For most of history, men enjoyed the better of the bargain, and King Henry VIII of England was perhaps the most representative example of that. Between his many dalliances he had six wives, a cast of very different women who spoke to his love of variety if not constancy.

"The Private Life Of Henry VIII" is a merry recounting of five of those marriages, with a passing nod in the opening titles to first wife Catherine of Aragon: "Her story is of no particular interest. She was a respectable woman." It's a funny line that sets up what will be the film's cheerfully cynical tone.

Director Alexander Korda and his writers Lajos Biro and Arthur Wimperis made several brave choices, like the episodic structure of the story as it focuses on each wife in turn, and how it concentrates most on the last four rather than the second and most famous of Henry's wives, Anne Boleyn, played by Merle Oberon for what only amounts to a cameo as she awaits her execution. By doing this they acknowledge Henry VIII's cruelty without giving us the kind of details that would make us not like him, even as he is played by Charles Laughton.

Laughton is the best thing in the movie, winning an Oscar for a performance undimmed by time. He struts wide-legged from scene to scene, playing up his character's vanity and vulgarity and finding an emotional core that draws us to like him despite his legendary faults. When we first see him, after a few minutes of exposition around his court, he has caught one of his ladies-in-waiting, Katherine Howard, making comment about how unfair this whole Boleyn business is. Why if he were not a king, she would call him...

"What would you call me?" Henry demands as he appears from the shadows of the doorway.

Katherine trembles, and manages to blurt: "Why, I would call you...a man!"

A big laugh from the big man. "So I am, and glad of it. And you may be glad of it too, one day."

As played by the lovely Binnie Barnes, Katherine Howard gets the lion's share of attention among the wives, as we first see her as a court lady who soon becomes ambitious for Henry's attentions even as one of Henry's knights, Thomas Culpeper, pleads for her love. She gets Henry eventually, lives to regret it, then doesn't, in a nice story arc Barnes carries off well with her beauty and charm, well enough to not make us wonder about her sudden turnabout in character from the sensible, decent woman we see in the beginning. About the only negative of her performance, and of the film, is her scenes with Culpeper slow down the story and take too much time away from Henry.

Elsa Lanchester, Laughton's real-life wife, makes a strong impression as the least romantic of Henry's partners, a German duchess he marries for politics but comes to grief when he gets a load of her face. Lanchester actually is lovely, but Anne figures her only way to avoid Henry's attentions is to push out her jaw and act dense when he talks about what her wifely duties entail. She and Laughton have a wonderful comic chemistry as they spend their wedding night playing cards; and its especially fun to watch Laughton as his character gets some of his own back for all his serial marrying.

"If you want to be happy...marry a stupid woman!" Henry tells Culpeper at one point. That's not exactly true; stupid women can break your heart, too. True marital happiness may in fact be a fallacy, but at least "The Private Life Of Henry VIII" makes such failure fun.


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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

21 September 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La vida privada de Enrique VIII See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

GBP60,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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