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A Man for All Seasons (1966) Poster

Quotes

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William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

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The Duke of Norfolk: Oh confound all this. I'm not a scholar, I don't know whether the marriage was lawful or not but dammit, Thomas, look at these names! Why can't you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!

Sir Thomas More: And when we die, and 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?

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Sir Thomas More: Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?

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Sir Thomas More: Why not be a teacher? You'd be a fine teacher; perhaps a great one.

Richard Rich: If I was, who would know it?

Sir Thomas More: You; your pupils; your friends; God. Not a bad public, that.

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Sir Thomas More: I do none harm, I say none harm, I think none harm. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive, in good faith I long not to live.

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Sir Thomas More: I think that when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.

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Sir Thomas More: When a man takes an oath, he's holding his own self in his own hands like water, and if he opens his fingers then, he needn't hope to find himself again.

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Sir Thomas More: [in his prison cell] ... If we lived in a state where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us saintly. But since we see that abhorrence, anger, pride, and stupidity commonly profit far beyond charity, modesty, justice, and thought, perhaps we must stand fast a little - even at the risk of being heroes...

Margaret More: [crying] But in reason! Haven't you done as much as God can reasonably want?

Sir Thomas More: ...Well, finally... it isn't a matter of reason. Finally, it's a matter of love.

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Sir Thomas More: You threaten like a dockside bully.

Cromwell: How should I threaten?

Sir Thomas More: Like a minister of state. With justice.

Cromwell: Oh, justice is what you're threatened with.

Sir Thomas More: Then I am not threatened.

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Sir Thomas More: Listen, Meg, God made the angels to show Him splendor, as He made animals for innocence and plants for their simplicity. But Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind. If He suffers us to come to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand to our tackle as best we can, and, yes, Meg, then we can clamor like champions, if we have the spittle for it. But it's God's part, not our own, to bring ourselves to such a pass. Our natural business lies in escaping. If I can take the oath, I will.

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Margaret More: Father, that man's bad.

Sir Thomas More: There's no law against that.

William Roper: There is: God's law.

Sir Thomas More: Then God can arrest him.

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Cromwell: Now, Sir Thomas, you stand on your silence.

Sir Thomas More: I do.

Cromwell: But, gentlemen of the jury, there are many kinds of silence. Consider first the silence of a man who is dead. Let us suppose we go into the room where he is laid out, and we listen: what do we hear? Silence. What does it betoken, this silence? Nothing; this is silence pure and simple. But let us take another case. Suppose I were to take a dagger from my sleeve and make to kill the prisoner with it; and my lordships there, instead of crying out for me to stop, maintained their silence. That would betoken! It would betoken a willingness that I should do it, and under the law, they will be guilty with me. So silence can, according to the circumstances, speak! Let us consider now the circumstances of the prisoner's silence. The oath was put to loyal subjects up and down the country, and they all declared His Grace's title to be just and good. But when it came to the prisoner, he refused! He calls this silence. Yet is there a man in this court - is there a man in this country! - who does not know Sir Thomas More's opinion of this title?

Crowd in court gallery: No!

Cromwell: Yet how can this be? Because this silence betokened, nay, this silence was, not silence at all, but most eloquent denial!

Sir Thomas More: Not so. Not so, Master Secretary. The maxim is "Qui tacet consentire": the maxim of the law is "Silence gives consent". If therefore you wish to construe what my silence betokened, you must construe that I consented, not that I denied.

Cromwell: Is that in fact what the world construes from it? Do you pretend that is what you wish the world to construe from it?

Sir Thomas More: The world must construe according to its wits; this court must construe according to the law.

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Sir Thomas More: I trust I make myself obscure.

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Cardinal Wolsey: You're a constant regret to me, Thomas. If you could just see facts flat-on, without that horrible moral squint... With a little common sense you could have made a statesman.

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The Duke of Norfolk: Your life lies in your own hands, Thomas, as it always has.

Sir Thomas More: Is that so, My Lord? Then I'll keep a good grip on it.

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King Henry VIII: Thomas. I chose the right man for chancellor!

Sir Thomas More: I should in fairness add that my taste in music is reputedly deplorable.

King Henry VIII: Your taste in music is excellent. It exactly coincides with my own!

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Richard Rich: I would be faithful.

Sir Thomas More: Richard, you couldn't answer for yourself even so far as tonight.

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[last lines]

Sir Thomas More: [talking to the witnesses for his execution] I am commanded by the King to be brief, and since I am the King's obedient subject, brief I will be. I die his Majesty's good servant but God's first.

[to the executioner]

Sir Thomas More: I forgive you right readily.

[he gives him a coin]

Sir Thomas More: Be not afraid of your office; you send me to God.

Archbishop Cranmer: You're very sure of that, Sir Thomas?

Sir Thomas More: He will not refuse one who is so blithe to go to him.

[he kneels and puts his head on the chopping block]

Narrator: Thomas More's head was stuck on Traitors' Gate for a month, then his daughter, Margaret, removed it and kept it till her death. Cromwell was beheaded for high treason five years after More. The archbishop was burned at the stake. The Duke of Norfolk should have been executed for high treason, but the king died of syphilis the night before. Richard Rich became chancellor of England and died in his bed.

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Cardinal Wolsey: That... thing out there; at least she's fertile.

Sir Thomas More: She's not his wife.

Cardinal Wolsey: No, Catherine's his wife and she's barren as a brick; are you going to pray for a miracle?

Sir Thomas More: There are precedents.

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Cromwell: I have evidence that Sir Thomas, while he was a judge, accepted bribes.

The Duke of Norfolk: What? Goddammit, he was the only judge since Cato who didn't accept bribes! When was there last a Chancellor whose possessions after three years in office totaled one hundred pounds and a gold chain?

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Sir Thomas More: [to Will Roper] Now, listen, Will. Two years ago you were a passionate churchman. Now you're a passionate Lutheran. We must just pray that when your head's finished turning, your face is to the front again.

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[Sir Thomas and the King are discussing the King's wish for a divorce from Katherine of Aragon, his brother's widow]

King Henry VIII: Oh, Thomas, Thomas, Thomas! Does a man need a Pope to tell him where he's sinned? It was a sin. God's punished me. I have no son. Son after son she's borne me - all dead at birth or dead within the month. Never saw the hand of God so clear in anything. It's my bounden duty to put away the Queen and all the popes back to Peter shall not come between me and my duty! How is it that you cannot see? Everyone else does.

Sir Thomas More: Then why does your Grace need my poor support?

King Henry VIII: Because you're honest... and what is more to the purpose, you're KNOWN to be honest. There are those like Norfolk who follow me because I wear the crown; and those like Master Cromwell who follow me because they are jackals with sharp teeth and I'm their tiger; there's a mass that follows me because it follows anything that moves. And then there's you...

Sir Thomas More: I am sick to think how much I must displease your Grace.

King Henry VIII: No, Thomas, I respect your sincerity. But respect... man, that's water in the desert.

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Sir Thomas More: Have I your word that what we say here is between us two?

The Duke of Norfolk: Very well.

Sir Thomas More: And if the King should command you to repeat what I may say?

The Duke of Norfolk: I should keep my word to you.

Sir Thomas More: Then what has become of your oath of obedience to the King?

The Duke of Norfolk: You lay traps for me!

Sir Thomas More: No, I show you the times.

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[after King Henry VIII leaves]

Alice More: What's this? You crossed him?

Sir Thomas More: Somewhat.

Alice More: Why?

Sir Thomas More: I couldn't find the other way.

Alice More: You're too nice altogether, Thomas.

Sir Thomas More: Woman, mind your house!

Alice More: I am minding my house!

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The Duke of Norfolk: Why do you insult me with this lawyer's chatter?

Sir Thomas More: Because I am afraid.

The Duke of Norfolk: Man, you're ill. This isn't Spain, you know. This is England.

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The Duke of Norfolk: The nobility of England...

Sir Thomas More: The nobility of England, My Lord, would have snored through the Sermon on the Mount, but you'll labor like scholars over a bulldog's pedigree.

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Sir Thomas More: [More has been found guilty of treason, and now for the first time breaks his years-long adamant silence on Henry VIII's divorce of Queen Catherine to marry Anne Boleyn] Since the Court has determined to condemn me, God knoweth how, I will now discharge my mind concerning the indictment and the King's title. The indictment is grounded in an act of Parliament which is directly repugnant to the law of God, and his Holy Church, the Supreme Government of which no temporal person may by any law presume to take upon him. This was granted by the mouth of our Savior, Christ himself, to Saint Peter and the Bishops of Rome whilst He lived and was personally present here on earth. It is, therefore, insufficient in law to charge any Christian to obey it. And more to this, the immunity of the Church is promised both in Magna Carta and in the king's own coronation oath

[Cromwell calls More 'malicious']

Sir Thomas More: ... Not so. I am the king's true subject, and I pray for him and all the realm. I do none harm. I say none harm. I think none harm. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive, then in good faith, I long not to live. Nevertheless, it is not for the Supremacy that you have sought my blood, but because I would not bend to the marriage!

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Cardinal Wolsey: You'd like that, wouldn't you? To govern the country with prayers?

Sir Thomas More: Yes, I should.

Cardinal Wolsey: I'd like to be there when you try.

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Alice More: Poor, silly man - do you think they leave you here to think?

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Cromwell: The King wants Sir Thomas to bless his marriage. If Sir Thomas appeared at the wedding, now, it might save us all a lot of trouble.

The Duke of Norfolk: Aaahh, he won't attend the wedding.

Cromwell: If I were you, I'd try and persuade him. I really would try... if I were you.

The Duke of Norfolk: Cromwell, are you threatening me?

Cromwell: My dear Norfolk... this isn't Spain. This is England.

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Cardinal Wolsey: [as More turns to leave] More! You should have been a cleric!

Sir Thomas More: Like yourself, Your Grace?

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Sir Thomas More: [to Norfolk] But what matters to me is not whether it's true or not, but that I believe it to be true, or rather not that I /believe/ it, but that /I/ believe it

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Sir Thomas More: [to the Chief Justice] Death comes for us all, My Lord... even for kings.

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[first lines]

[first spoken lines are over 6 minutes into the film]

The Duke of Norfolk: ...there's the country every second bastard born is fathered by a priest.

Matthew: [clears throat to get More's attention]

1st Scholar: But in Utopia that couldn't be.

The Duke of Norfolk: For why?

1st Scholar: Well, there the priests are very holy.

Courtier: Therefore, very few.

Sir Thomas More: Is it anything interesting, Matthew?

Matthew: Bless you, sir, I don't know.

Sir Thomas More: Bless you too, Matthew.

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Cromwell: I know a man who wants to change his woman.

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Sir Thomas More: They'll think that somewhere along your pedigree a bitch got over the wall!

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King Henry VIII: [shouting angrily] I have no queen! Catherine's not my wife! No priest can make her so! They that say she is my wife are not only liars, but traitors! Yes, traitors that I will not brook now! Treachery... treachery... treachery I will not brook! It maddens me! It is a deadly canker in the body politic, and I will have it out!

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[devoutly Catholic Thomas More has come upon his daughter Margaret keeping company, unchaperoned, with Will Roper, a young Protestant]

Margaret More: Will wants to marry me, Father.

Sir Thomas More: [hands on hips] Well, he can't.

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Cromwell: Are you coming my way, Rich?

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The Duke of Norfolk: When the Cardinal calls, you all come running, day or night. What is the man? A butcher's son!

Sir Thomas More: Chancellor of England, too.

Margaret More: No that's his office. What is the man?

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Richard Rich: Surely, Your Grace, when a man rises so high and so swiftly, we must think he was misplaced in his origins. That, at least, was the opinion of Aristotle.

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Sir Thomas More: [being summoned to Hampton Court] The King's business.

Margaret More: The Queen's business.

Alice More: Mistress Anne Boleyn's business.

Sir Thomas More: Well, it's all the Cardinal's business.

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Alice More: Wolsey's still a butcher. And you're a member of the King's High Council.

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Alice More: Man's a simpleton.

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Cardinal Wolsey: You opposed me in the Council this morning, Thomas.

Sir Thomas More: Yes, Your Grace.

Cardinal Wolsey: You were the only one.

Sir Thomas More: Yes, Your Grace.

Cardinal Wolsey: You're a fool.

Sir Thomas More: Thank God there is only one fool on the Council.

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Sir Thomas More: I'll give your daughter the same judgement I would give my own. A fair one, quickly.

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Cardinal Wolsey: The King wants a son. What are you going to do about it?

Sir Thomas More: I'm very sure the King needs no advice from me on what to do about it.

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Cardinal Wolsey: He needs a son. I repeat, what are you going to do about it?

Sir Thomas More: I pray for it daily.

Cardinal Wolsey: God's death, he means it.

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Cardinal Wolsey: Come down to earth. Until you do - you and I are enemies.

Sir Thomas More: As Your Grace wishes.

Cardinal Wolsey: As God wills.

Sir Thomas More: Perhaps, Your Grace.

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Sir Thomas More: Richard, that's a little bribe. At court they offer you all sorts of things, home, manors, manor houses, coats of arms. A man should go where he won't be tempted. Why not be a teacher? You'd be a fine teacher. Perhaps a great one.

Richard Rich: lf I was, who would know it?

Sir Thomas More: You! Your pupils. Your friends. God. Not a bad public, that. Oh, and a quiet life.

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Sir Thomas More: Will Roper's been.

Alice More: Will Roper?

Sir Thomas More: Yes, he's been here all night. He wants to marry Meg.

Alice More: Why you don't beat that girl, l...

Sir Thomas More: No. She's full of education and it's a delicate commodity.

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William Roper: The Church is heretical! Dr. Luther's proved that to my satisfaction!

Sir Thomas More: Luther is an excommunicate!

William Roper: From a heretic Church! Church? It's a shop! Salvation by the shilling.

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King Henry VIII: Thomas, you must consider, I stand in peril of my soul. It was no marriage. I have lived in incest with my brother's widow. Leviticus: "Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife." Leviticus. Chapter 18, verse 16.

Sir Thomas More: Yes, Your Grace. But Deuteronomy...

King Henry VIII: Deuteronomy is ambiguous!

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Sir Thomas More: If Wolsey fell, the splash would swamp a few small boats like ours.

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Sir Thomas More: You're very pensive.

Margaret More: You're very gay.

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King Henry VIII: How'd you like our music? That air they played, it had a certain... Well, tell me what you thought of it.

Sir Thomas More: Could it have been Your Grace's own?

King Henry VIII: Discovered! Now I'll never know your true opinion, and that's irksome. Well, we artists, we love praise, yet we love truth better.

Sir Thomas More: Then I will tell my true opinion.

King Henry VIII: Well?

Sir Thomas More: To me it seemed delightful.

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Alice More: Thomas? Stay friends with him.

Sir Thomas More: Whatever may be done by smiling, you may rely on me to do. Set your mind at rest. This is not the stuff of which martyrs are made.

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King Henry VIII: Music. Music. Send them back without me, Thomas. I'll live here in Chelsea and make music.

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Matthew: I wish we could have good luck all the time. I wish rainwater was beer! I wish we had wings! But we don't.

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Sir Thomas More: You're very free with my daughter's hand, Roper.

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Sir Thomas More: Alice, shall I teach you to read?

Alice More: No, by God!

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Alice More: Well, there's an end of you. What'll you do now? Sit by the fire - and make goslings in the ash?

Sir Thomas More: Not at all, Alice. I expect I'll write a bit. I'll write, I'll read, I'll think. I think I'll learn to fish. I'll play with my grandchildren when son Roper's done his duty.

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Alice More: If I'm to lose my rank and fall to housekeeping, I want to know the reason. So make a statement now.

Sir Thomas More: No! Alice, it's a point of law. Accept it from me, Alice, that in silence is my safety, under the law. And my silence must be absolute, it must extend to you.

Alice More: In short, you don't trust me.

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King Henry VIII: [singing] Where are you going to, my handsome young one?

King Henry VIIIAnne Boleyn: I'm going a-courting

King Henry VIII: Mother. I'm going a-courting

King Henry VIIIAnne Boleyn: Mother.

King Henry VIII: Make my bed softly...

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The Duke of Norfolk: I still say, let sleeping dogs lie.

Cromwell: The King does not agree with you.

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Sir Thomas More: It was from first to last the King's own project.

Cromwell: The King says not.

Sir Thomas More: The King knows the truth of it.

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Cromwell: Sir Thomas, believe me. No, that's asking too much. But let me tell you all the same. You have no more sincere admirer than myself.

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Cromwell: Sir Thomas More, have you anything to say regarding the King's marriage with Queen Anne?

Sir Thomas More: I understood I was not to be asked that again.

Cromwell: Then evidently you understood wrongly. These charges...

Sir Thomas More: They are terrors for children, Master Secretary, not for me!

Cromwell: Then know that the King commands me to charge you, in his name, with great ingratitude! And to tell you that there never was, nor could be, so villainous a servant, nor so traitorous a subject, as yourself!

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Richard Rich: What will you do now?

Cromwell: Whatever's necessary.

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Sir Thomas More: So, I am brought here at last.

Cromwell: Brought? You've brought yourself to where you stand now.

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Sir Thomas More: I will not take the oath. I will not tell you why I will not.

The Duke of Norfolk: Then your reasons must be treasonable!

Sir Thomas More: Not "must be," may be.

The Duke of Norfolk: Oh, it's a fair assumption!

Sir Thomas More: The law requires more than an assumption, the law requires a fact.

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Sir Thomas More: Affection goes as deep in me as you, I think. But only God is love right through.

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Sir Thomas More: No one is safe, Howard, and you have a son. We'll end our friendship now.

The Duke of Norfolk: For friendship's sake?

Sir Thomas More: Yes.

The Duke of Norfolk: Daft!

Sir Thomas More: Norfolk, you're a fool!

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Sir Thomas More: I will not give in, because I oppose it. Not my pride, not my spleen, nor any other of my appetites, but I do, l. Is there, in the midst of all this muscle, no sinew that serves no appetite?

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The Duke of Norfolk: An artificial quarrel is not a quarrel.

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Alice More: As for understanding, I understand you're the best man I ever met or ever likely to. And if you go, God knows why I suppose, though as God's my witness, God's kept deadly quiet about it. And if any one wants to know my opinion of the King and his Council, he only has to ask for it!

Sir Thomas More: Why, it's a lion I married. A lion. A lion!

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Sir Thomas More: I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one.

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Sir Thomas More: Some men think the earth is round, others think it flat. It is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it?

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Margaret More: Father. "God more regards the thoughts of the heart than the words of the mouth." Well, so you've always told me.

Sir Thomas More: Yes.

Margaret More: Then say the words of the oath and in your heart think otherwise.

Sir Thomas More: What is an oath then, but words we say to God?

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Sir Thomas More: You may suppose I have objections, all you know is that I will not swear to it, for which you cannot lawfully harm me further. But if you were right in supposing me to have objections, and right again in supposing my objections to be treasonable, the law would let you cut my head off.

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Sir Thomas More: I am a dead man. You have your will of me.

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Jailer: You must understand my position, sir. I'm a plain, simple man and I just want to keep out of trouble.

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Alice More: Take your muddy paws off me! Filthy, stinking, gutter-fed, turnkey! I'll see you suffer for this!

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Trivia | Goofs | Crazy Credits | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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