(out of 5)

The relationship between Kenry Henry II of England and his best friend Thomas Becket, later to become the Archbishop of Canterbury, makes for an unforgettable viewing experience in this excellent film by Peter Glenville. After ascending the throne and following the death of the previous Archbishop, Henry () decides that his former drinking buddy Becket (), who often accompanied him on wenching expeditions, would be the perfect replacement for the job. Thinking that his conflicts with the church will now be over, Henry is astounded to learn that Becket has turned towards a new admiration of the institution and intends on taking his job very seriously. The fantastic screenplay, based on the play by Jean Anouilh, is further given strength by the two powerhouse performances in the lead roles; O’Toole again played Henry II in The Lion In Winter, but this is the better role and performance of the two, and Burton was probably never in a better film or better role except maybe for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Though they rule the story, there is much to be said for the excellent supporting performances as well, including scene-stealing turns by  as Eleanor of Acquitaine (Henry’s wife), the always wonderful  as Queen Matilda (his mother) and  as King Louis VII of France. At first it seems like a stodgy old drama, but get into it and this film will prove to be satisfying, intelligent viewing.

Wallis-Hazen, Paramount Film Service, Keep Films

United Kingdom/USA, 1964

Directed by

Screenplay by , based on the play by , as translated by

Cinematography by

Produced by

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Academy Awards 1964

Golden Globe Awards 1964

National Board of Review Awards 1964.

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