Stars: Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, John Castle, Nigel Terry
Genre: Drama, History
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 134 minutes
In this 12th-century version of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Henry II of England (Peter O'Toole) and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn), meet on Christmas Eve to discuss the future of the throne. These two are having slight marital problems, as she is kept in captivity most of the year for raising a rebellion against him, and he flaunts his young mistress. Then there are the problems raised by their three treacherous and traitorous sons. James Goldman won an Oscar® for the brilliant screenplay, based on his Broadway play. It is a tad wordy, as the action is kept to a minimum, but those words are sharp as daggers. The humor is wicked and black and delivered with very dry, dead-on precision. Sparks fly and the screen sizzles whenever Hepburn and O'Toole tango, which is often. Both were nominated for Academy Awards® for their vigorous performances. (She won; he didn't.) There's also an infamous homo-erotic exchange between Philip of France (Timothy Dalton) and Richard the Lionhearted (Anthony Hopkins). Both actors were making their feature-film debuts. --Rochelle O'Gorman
You know me well enough to know I can't be stopped.
I don't have to stop you - I have only to delay you. Every enemy you have has friends in Rome... will cost you time.
What is this? I'm not mouldering - my pate's not peeling off. I'm good for years.
How many years? Suppose I hold you back for one? I can - it's possible. Suppose your first son dies? Ours did - it's possible. Suppose you're daughtered next? We were - that, too, is possible. How old is "Daddy" then? What kind of spindly, ricket-ridden, milky, wizened, dim-eyed, gammy-handed, limpy line of things will you beget?
It's sweet of you to care.
And when you die - which is regrettable, but necessary - what will happen to frail Alais and her pleumy prince? You can't think Richard's going to wait for your grotesque to grow.
You wouldn't let him do a thing like that.
Let him? I'd push him through the nursery door!
You're not that cruel.
Don't fret. We'll wait until you're dead to do it.
I found out the way your mind works and the kind of man you are. I know your plans and expectations - you've burbled every bit of strategy you've got. I know exactly what you will do, and exactly what you won't, and I've told you exactly nothing. To these aged eyes, boy, that's what winning looks like!
A knife! He's got a knife!
Of course he has a knife, he always has a knife, we all have knives! It's 1183 and we're barbarians! How clear we make it. Oh, my piglets, we are the origins of war: not history's forces, nor the times, nor justice, nor the lack of it, nor causes, nor religions, nor ideas, nor kinds of government, nor any other thing. We are the killers. We breed wars. We carry it like syphilis inside. Dead bodies rot in field and stream because the living ones are rotten. For the love of God, can't we love one another just a little - that's how peace begins. We have so much to love each other for. We have such possibilities, my children. We could change the world.
Who's to say it's monstrous? I'm the King. I call it just. Therefore, I, Henry, by the Grace of God King of the English, Lord of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, Count of Anjou, Brittany, Poitou and Normandy, Maine, Gascony, and Acquitaine, do sentence you to death. Done this Christmas Day in Chinon in God's year eleven eighty-three.
When the sons, in the dungeon, think they hear Henry coming down the stairs to kill them.
He's here. He'll get no satisfaction out of us. Don't let him see you beg...Take it like a man!
You fool! As if the way one falls down matters!
Well, when the fall is all that's left, it matters a great deal.