King Henry II of England (Peter O'Toole) comes to terms with his affection for his close friend and confidant Thomas Becket (Richard Burton), who finds his true honor by observing God's divine will rather than the King's.
A member of the House of Lords dies, leaving his estate to his son. Unfortunately, his son thinks he is Jesus Christ. The other, somewhat more respectable, members of their family plot to steal the estate from him. Murder and mayhem ensue.
This is a delightful, if peculiar, story of a day in the life of a small, Welsh fishing village called "Llareggub" (read it backwards). We meet a host of curious characters (and ghosts) ... See full summary »
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
When the play was due to open on the West End in London, Peter O'Toole was cast as King Henry II. He had to break his contract, however, as he had just landed the lead in Lawrence of Arabia (1962). See more »
Henry II makes fun of his son at dinner, calling him Henry III. Henry II had a son named Henry who was crowned in 1170 but ordinals were not introduced till later - he was known as the Young King - and he died 6 years before his father. 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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Classic historical drama with excellent performances from the two leads... Peter O'Toole as King Henry II and Richard Burton as his best friend turned nemesis, Thomas Becket. From the start Henry II is not the most benevolent of kings... he steals young girls from their families for his own carnal pleasures... and even tricks Becket into sending the woman he loves to the King's bed. King Henry gets the idea that it might end his problems with the church if he names his best friend Archbishop... but he underestimates Becket's faith (as does Becket himself). Eventually Becket has to choose between his duty to the King and his duty to God... an unenviable choice that bodes ill no matter which choice he makes. Obvious homoerotic undertones to the relationship between the two strong-willed individuals... hard to imagine that this sort of material was palatable to audiences in the early 60s. Great script, great actors, great sets and costumes... a must see!
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