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Monday, November 2, 2015

A Man For All Seasons (1966)

In 16th century England, the Lord Chancellor Of England (Paul Scofield) refuses to sign a letter to the Pope asking him to annul the marriage between Henry VIII (Robert Shaw) and Catherine of Aragon so that the King will be free to marry Anne Boleyn (Vanessa Redgrave). Based on the play by Robert Bolt (who adapted his play for the screen) and directed by Fred Zinnemann (FROM HERE TO ETERNITY). This is a handsomely mounted production but in terms of pure cinema, it's lacking. But it more than makes up for it with its intelligent and literate script and the superlative acting. Not all movies need to move and a dearth of style or a visual sense are replaced by a cerebral film of ideals. In other words, it's basically a filmed play where any attempt at style would detract from what the film is trying to say. Normally I find films of this sort a bit of a slog but this is one of the best of its kind. Scofield's wonderful performance and the screenplay make Sir Thomas More an admirable idealist without being sanctimonious. The minimalist score is by Georges Delerue. With Orson Welles, Wendy Hiller, Susannah York, Leo McKern, John Hurt, Nigel Davenport, Corin Redgrave and Yootha Joyce.

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