Henry VIII has just married Marie of Normandy, and is eager to consummate their marriage. Unfortunately for Henry, she is always eating garlic, and refuses to stop. Deciding to get rid of ...
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Henry VIII has just married Marie of Normandy, and is eager to consummate their marriage. Unfortunately for Henry, she is always eating garlic, and refuses to stop. Deciding to get rid of her in his usual manner, Henry has to find some way of doing it without provoking war with Marie's cousin, the King of France. Perhaps if she had an affair...Written by
Simon N. McIntosh-Smith <Simon.N.Smith@cs.cf.ac.uk>
When Queen Marie is with Cromwell in his room, she says he rescued her from Hampton Court Maze. The Maze wasn't planted until 1689-95, more than 140 years after the film is set. However, the present-day maze was based on an earlier one from Cardinal Wolsey's time, so Queen Marie and Cromwell could have known of the old maze, not the one that's there today. See more »
Opening credits: This film is based on a recently discovered manuscript by one William Cobbler which reveals the fact that Henry VIII did in fact have two more wives. Although it was at first thought that Cromwell originated the story, it is now known to be definitely all Cobbler's........ from beginning to end. See more »
The best ever film about Tudor Britain, entertainment as Shakespeare would have known it.
For most spoofs, the holy grail is to make so ridiculous the subject of attack that it will be impossible to take it seriously again. AIRPLANE! achieved this with the AIRPORT series, admittedly an easy target. CARRY ON HENRY may not have had quite the same effect - such is the unshakeable British obsession with the past, one of the film's main targets - but it's always nice to see that someone else found A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS and THE LION IN WINTER to be pompous tripe as well.
HENRY, like CARRY ON UP THE KHYBER, is an example of a modest franchise miraculously finding an appropriate subject and creating a work of art. It may lack the jawdropping Bunuellian genius of KHYBER, but it has its own juicy pleasures. The jokes are franker than were usual at this point, but clever rather than crude, and funny when they were crude.
This is also the last time the cast would be as brilliant as this - a well-oiled machine perfectly in control of the material. Kenneth Williams is aptly, hilariously Machiavellian; Charles Hawtrey is endearingly inappropriate as the brave knight and lover who undergoes all sorts of horrible tortures for his Queen - the heterosexual potency of these obviously gay stars are an uproarious counterpoint to the macho King's unsuccessful promiscuity. Joan Sims is glorious as ever as the ample, lascivious, French, garlic-obsessed Queen. But it is the godlike Sid James who rightly walks away with the film, cinema's best ever King Henry. The merging of his usual persona - the chuckling lecher who is repeatedly thwarted in his amorous endeavours (itself a remarkable comment of tyranny throughout the ages), married to a sex-mad woman he can't abide - with the portrayal of an historical icon creates satire of great depth.
Whereas the aforementined, Oscar-garlanded pageants are rigidly respectful of English history, HENRY is breezily sceptical. Rather than search for continuity with the past, or examine various notions of Englishness, HENRY is very modern in its rejection of a certain kind of history, the meticulous reconstruction of a mythic past that can teach us about the present. HENRY knows that the past can only be viewed through the prism of the present, that history is a fluid, ever vanishing, entity, always reinterpreted to each generation's needs. The film quite clearly sets out its stall of bogusnes - it is based on recently discovered documents by William Cobbler - only to show how unreliable our grasp of history is; how it's always told in somebody's vested interests, at the expense of someone else.
The film therefore prefigures the awesome Monty Python deconstructions of the 70s, with jokes about the Labour government, and with King's wenches who demand payment before favours, and whose fathers complain about taxation. The reduction here of English history to an aristorcratic bedroom farce is a more profound insight than any 'serious' epic has ever managed.
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