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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 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:

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:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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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)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Stunned by Merle Oberon's radiant beauty, director William Wyler recommended to his cousin Carl Laemmle that he sign her. Months later Wyler discovered that Universal had taken his advice, but mistakenly signed Binnie Barnes. 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

Palace servant: Anne Boleyn dies this morning; Jane Seymour takes her place tonight. What luck!
Another servant: For which of them, I wonder?
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 Have You Got Any Castles? (1938) See more »

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User Reviews

 
He's Hen-ery the Eighth, he was
15 November 2010 | by LejinkSee all my reviews

Rollicking historical bio-pic of the notorious love-life of Britain's most married monarch in this early talkie directed by the celebrated Alexander Korda and featuring a bravura performance by the young Charles Laughton.

Of course, condensing six marriages into one 97 minute movie (a famous BBC series of the early 70's allocated one hour to each wife!), means that cuts are made, for instance Katherine Of Aragon (his divorce of whom saw Henry excommunicated by the Pope and effectively make England a Protestant country, in other words, no insignificant event), is sidestepped completely and we only see Anne Boleyn, possibly the most interesting and charismatic of the wives as she readies herself for her beheading. So really we only get four and a half wives for the price of six but to be fair the film is pretty much all about Henry, as the title makes clear.

Laughton is terrific in the title role even if one may smile now of the casting at the time which saddled the homosexual actor with six women (not to mention the more than occasional mistress), all of whose prime purpose was to beget a male heir to Henry's throne. The movie also gets across well the excesses of Henry's court as well as the sycophancy which inevitably accompanied this despot with at different stages his songwriting and wrestling prowess lauded to the heavens.

There's a relatively minor sub-plot with Robert Donat's Thomas Culpepper's relationship with the over-ambitious Kathaerine Parr which is later exposed by an army of witnesses leading to their immediate demise, but you sense the director's sympathies are with Henry in any case.

There's much ribald humour, quite racy for the time, in the utterings of the hoi-polloi at the queens' executions and amongst the King's serving staff, while the encounter with the exceeding ugly Anne Of Cleves is played for laughs pretty much from the start. The direction is fast moving and while telescoping a lot of history into its short running time, does so with wit and flair - like when the second and third queens say to camera "What a lovely day", for one, her last and the other, first words as a monarch, or the elevated shot of a solitary Hanry when his beloved Kate (Parr) gets the chop for her adultery with Donat.

Bowdlerised history it may well be but this is great fun and can teach all manner of succeeding stodgy and static historical recreations, both big and small-screen, a thing or six about delivering fine entertainment.


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