The Lion In Winter

ANTHONY HARVEY

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.  United Kingdom, 1968.  Haworth Productions.  Screenplay by , based on his play.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1968.  Golden Globe Awards 1968.  

In 12th century England, King Henry II () sits atop his throne and hesitates to name his successor. Instead, he invites all the rivals to the crown to a Christmas banquet and lets them hash out their schemes and plots to win them to his side. His prime invitee is, of course, his banished wife Eleanor (), followed by his three sons ( in his film debut, , ), his mistress () and her brother the King of France ().  Beautifully written, this film doesn’t ever let you go for a second, rife with breathless drama at every step. O’Toole is brilliantly energetic, and Hepburn brings everything out of her rich role that she can possibly muster. Lush sets and costumes and Anthony Harvey’s intelligent direction make for a very complete, satisfying battle-of-wills drama.

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