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A Man for All Seasons (1966)

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The story of Sir Thomas More, who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarry.

Director:

Fred Zinnemann

Writers:

Robert Bolt (from the play by), Robert Bolt (screenplay)
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Won 6 Oscars. Another 27 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Scofield ... Thomas More
Wendy Hiller ... Alice
Leo McKern ... Cromwell
Robert Shaw ... Henry VIII
Orson Welles ... Cardinal Wolsey
Susannah York ... Margaret
Nigel Davenport ... Duke of Norfolk
John Hurt ... Rich
Corin Redgrave ... Roper
Colin Blakely ... Matthew
Cyril Luckham ... Archbishop Cranmer
Jack Gwillim ... Chief Justice
Thomas Heathcote ... Boatman
Yootha Joyce ... Averil Machin
Anthony Nicholls ... King's Representative
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Storyline

The story takes place in sixteenth century England. But men like Sir Thomas More, who love life yet have the moral fiber to lay down their lives for their principles, are found in every century. Concentrating on the last seven years of the English Chancellor's life, the struggle between More and King Henry VIII hinges on Henry's determination to break with Rome so he can divorce his current wife and wed again, and good Catholic More's inability to go along with such heresy. More resigns as Chancellor, hoping to be able to live out his life as a private citizen. But Henry will settle for nothing less than that the much respected More give public approval to his headstrong course. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The award-winning stage triumph brings more excitement to the screen...with its grandeur and its gripping drama! See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | Latin | Spanish | French

Release Date:

3 May 1967 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

El hombre de dos reinos See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$28,350,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Highland Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Paul Scofield, who plays the title role, and won the Best Actor Academy Award, in the opening credits had sixth billing. Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern, Robert Shaw, Susannah York, and Orson Welles were all billed before him. He was finally listed "and Paul Scofield". See more »

Goofs

When Henry leaves More's estate, he twice indicates that it is eight o'clock. The shadows of most characters between his announcement and actual leaving are very short making it appear to be much closer to noon. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[first spoken lines are over 6 minutes into the film]
Man: ...there's the country every second bastard born is fathered by a priest.
Matthew: [clears throat to get More's attention]
Man: Why, in Utopia, that couldn't be.
Man: But why?
Man: Well, there the priests are very holy.
Man: Therefore, very few.
Sir Thomas More: Is it anything interesting, Matthew?
Matthew: Bless you, sir, I don't know.
[...]
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"This silence of his is bellowing...."
15 December 2005 | by alynsrumboldSee all my reviews

One of the greatest cinematic studies of the nature of personal integrity, I sometimes think that this film is in danger of being forgotten -- and it shouldn't be. One wonders at the degree of corruption in More's time that he should have been so highly regarded for his honesty -- and how he might have been regarded today.

What Robert Bolt and Fred Zinnemann had wrought is absolutely brought to glorious life by the incomparable characterization of Sir Thomas More by the chronically underrated Paul Scofield. Bringing superb support to the role are Nigel Davenport as More's close friend Norfolk, who is caught between the rock of his respect and concern for More and the hard place of his duty to (and fear of) Henry VIII; Leo McKern as the jovially sinister Thomas Cromwell, whose verbal jousts with More are virtual poetry from Bolt's pen; John Hurt as More's fair-weather friend Richard Rich; Dame Wendy Hiller as More's devoted but frustrated and misunderstanding wife; and the elegant Susannah York as his equally devoted and strong-minded daughter. Two stand-out performances in relatively small but vital roles: Orson Welles, magnetic as the shrewdly pragmatic Cardinal Wolsey; and Robert Shaw, whose energetic portrayal of a young Henry VIII (before his corpulent days!) dominates the screen the two times he's on it.

As with "The Lion in Winter," the remarkable scriptwriting is the driving force behind the story, but Scofield's dignified, restrained, but at the same time quietly forceful delivery are what give the writing its power. The great quotes of the film ("Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the entire world...but for Wales?" "When you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?" etc.) are conveyed with either enormous gravity or poignancy by nothing more than the tone of Scofield's voice.

I think that the dilemma at the heart of the tale and how men of power came to grips with it is artfully summed up in the dying words of Wolsey and, of course, More. Wolsey regrets he did not serve God as well as he served his king. More, on the other hand, dies as "His majesty's good servant...but God's first." Whether criticized or praised as a morality play, it's wonderful to at least HAVE an uncompromising morality play to watch from time to time -- especially one so well crafted.


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