A Man for All Seasons
Release Year: 1966
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Writer: Robert Bolt (screenplay based on his own 1960 stageplay A Man for All Seasons)
Starring: Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern, Robert Shaw, Orson Welles, Susannah York, Nigel Davenport, John Hurt, Corin Redgrave, Colin Blakely, Cyril Luckham
Rating: Won 6 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Paul Scofield), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography – Color, Best Costume Design – Color. Nominated for 2 Oscars: Best Supporting Actor (Robert Shaw), Best Supporting Actress (Wendy Hiller). Won 4 Golden Globes: Best Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Actor – Drama (Paul Scofield), Best Screenplay. Nominated for 1 Golden Globe: Best Supporting Actor (Robert Shaw).
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #243, week 7 2019
The story of sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield), who as chancellor stood against King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw) when the king rejected the Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and marry his mistress.
The Tudor age is a period of English history which is full of drama, intrigue, and lots of interesting people. While the royals (Henry VIII, Elizabeth I) often steal most of the limelight the biggest human dramas are often found among those who have to navigate the whims of the monarch. One such person was Thomas More, one time teacher and friend of Henry VIII, impeccable lawyer and judge, and competent chancellor of the realm, who stood firm on his most strongly held beliefs no matter the consequences. More is a fascinating character and as played with great sensitivity by Scofield (Quiz Show, 1994) who manages to convey a great sense of the man’s inner moral strength as well as his likability. The script is absolutely wonderful and in spite of being based on a play a lot of the action takes place out of doors. The scenery around Thomas More’s private home and gardens is especially lovely. In a age of religious upheaval and subsequent moral confusion, the film cleverly focuses solely on More and concerns itself mainly with his strong sense of self and his integrity rather than forcing a larger scale on the story. The result is both a powerful tale about doing what you think is right and staying true to yourself, as well as a strong witness to the importance of freedom of belief. Highly recommended, but mostly to those interested in history.
Robert Bolt borrowed the title from Robert Whittinton, a contemporary of Thomas More, who wrote of him: “More is a man of an angel’s wit and singular learning; I know not his fellow. For where is the man of that gentleness, lowliness and affability? And, as time requireth, a man of marvelous mirth and pastimes, and sometime of as sad gravity: a man for all seasons.
Robert Shaw became the second actor to be nominated for playing Henry VIII. Charles Laughton was the first in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1936) and Richard Burton would be the third in Anne of a Thousand Days (1969).
In his autobiography, director Fred Zinnemann calls this the easiest film he ever made due to the caliber of the crew and the actors and way they worked together.
Cameo: Vanessa Redgrave appears in the unpaid part of Anne Boleyn. Her brother Corin Redgrave plays William Roper.
Picture Copyright: Sony