Monday, April 22, 2013

Movie of the Week – Becket

This week’s movie: Becket (1964).

King Henry II of England’s greatest friend and confident is Thomas Becket. However, that all changes when Henry makes Becket the Archbishop of Canterbury – Thomas finding a higher calling to God than even his loyalty to his King – and the two great friends become bitter enemies.

Talented stage director Peter Glenville directs this film based on Jean Anouilh’s play. Edward Anhalt  won an Oscar for his screenplay adapting the play. Laurence Rosenthal’s score is probably the best of his career (and it is one of his first for a major motion picture). Brilliant cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth’s photography is also very good. Production designer John Bryan’s period sets are good as well, though they have a minimalist quality to them (which makes the look of the film feel like a stage play).

The greatest attribute of the film is its dynamite leading performances from Richard Burton (as Becket) and Peter O’Toole (as King Henry II) – both were nominated for Oscars, but neither won (which is surprising – though to be fair, Rex Harrison, who did win, was good in My Fair Lady, and in retrospect it is criminal that Peter Sellers did not win for Dr. Strangelove). John Gielgud is good in support as King Louis VII of France.

Again, Burton and O’Toole are fantastic in the film, and fans of either (or both) actors definitely need to see this film – and really, fans of strong performances in general should seek it out. It is also a great companion piece to The Lion in Winter, which is about King Henry II’s later years (and again stars O’Toole who is at his very best opposite Katharine Hepburn). Becket was nominated for twelve Oscars including Best Picture but only won one (1964 was a great year for cinema).

Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Streaming

1 comment:

  1. You might be interested in our latest music video based upon the last words of Becket. The video may be viewed at