Debauched King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) installs his longtime court facilitator Thomas Becket (Richard Burton) as the Archbishop of Canterbury, assuming that his old friend will be a compliant and loyal lackey in the King's on-going battles with the church. But Becket unexpectedly finds his true calling on the ecclesiastical side, and aligns himself against the King's selfish wishes, causing a rift and an eventual showdown not only between the two men, but also the institutions they represent.Written by
There were complaints that the play did not translate well to film, as it was overly talkative, and there were no action scenes at all. See more »
The floors in the castle's great hall are clearly shown to be bare flagstone. In the 12th century floors were covered in rushes to absorb spills, garbage, and animal feces. When they got too filthy, fresh rushes were thrown down on top. Henry was known for fits of fury in which he would fall on the floor and "chew the rushes." See more »
King Henry II:
Well, Thomas Becket. Are you satisfied? Here I am, stripped, kneeling at your tomb, while those treacherous Saxon monks of yours are getting ready to thrash me. Me - with my delicate skin. I bet you'd never have done the same for me. But - I suppose I have to do this penance and make my peace with you. Hmm. What a strange end to our story. How cold it was when we last met - on the shores of France. Funny, it's nearly always been cold - except at the beginning, when we were friends....
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Two different versions of the closing "A Paramount Release" card exist - one print has these words appear inside the standard Paramount logo of the time superimposed in red, while another has these words as plain text with a small version of a completely different Paramount logo (with a full circle of stars), also in red, beneath them. See more »
What p****s me off about this film is that it, like "Metropolis", is a forgotten one. Why? Why is it that everything has to be razzle-dazzle eye candy, instead of a subtle, beautiful, fine piece of craftsmanship and storytelling. "Becket" was tough to watch, because of all the grain and clicks on the neglected print. But past all of the distortion of a neglected print, I found a very remarkable and exquisite achievement that ranks among some of the best films ever made! The craftsmanship is just the beginning! It gets better! Peter O'Toole, who ironically, played Henry II years later in "A Lion in Winter", does a superb job. He's so angry, volatile, and above all, whiny. When I saw the Disney version on "Robin Hood", with Peter Ustinov playing the voice of the whiny Prince John, I felt it was directly inspired by Peter O'Toole's Henry II! He was so good at being a great whiner. And Richard Burton, as Thomas Becket, looks so reserved, strong, and reverent, as a friend of Henry II who's faith and belief in God and serving the people, brings a rift in their friendship. I also felt bad that not only was this a crappy print, but also that the beautiful photography seemed so small on the TV. This is the kind of film that needs to be seen on the big screen in order to fully appreciate it. I hope that this gets some more respect and popularity, because it needs it and it has deserved it for years!
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