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Becket (1964)

Trailer
4:48 | Trailer
King Henry II of England comes to terms with his affection for his close friend and confidant Thomas Becket, who finds his true honor by observing God's divine will rather than the King's.

Director:

Peter Glenville

Writers:

Jean Anouilh (play), Lucienne Hill (play) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Burton ... Becket / Thomas Becket
Peter O'Toole ... His King / King Henry II
John Gielgud ... King Louis of France / King Louis VII of France
Gino Cervi ... the Cardinal / Cardinal Zambelli
Paolo Stoppa Paolo Stoppa ... the Pope / Pope Alexander III
Donald Wolfit ... Bishop Folliot
David Weston ... Brother John
Martita Hunt ... Empress Matilda
Pamela Brown ... Queen Eleanor [of Aquitaine]
Percy Herbert ... Baron
Siân Phillips ... Gwendolen (as Sian Phillips)
Inigo Jackson Inigo Jackson ... Robert de Beaumont
Felix Aylmer ... Archbishop of Canterbury
Niall MacGinnis ... Baron
Christopher Rhodes Christopher Rhodes ... Baron
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Storyline

Debauched King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) installs his longtime court facilitator Thomas Becket (Richard Burton) as the Archbishop of Canterbury, assuming that his old friend will be a compliant and loyal lackey in the King's on-going battles with the church. But Becket unexpectedly finds his true calling on the ecclesiastical side, and aligns himself against the King's selfish wishes, causing a rift and an eventual showdown not only between the two men, but also the institutions they represent. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

An age of rampant lusts, abandon, runaway passions. An age brought bristling to life by two of the most exciting stars of our time! See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sexual content and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At the beginning of the DVD commentary, Peter O'Toole relates his meeting with Anouilh in Paris a few years before this movie was made because he was being considered for the play. Anouilh told him that he had been looking for an idea based on a rift in the leftist Théâtre National Populaire between Gérard Philipe and Daniel Ivernel. He visited Canterbury and decided the Becket story would be a good vehicle. Philipe and Ivernel were cast as Becket and King Henry II, respectively for the Paris premiere of the play, but Philipe died during rehearsals. See more »

Goofs

Although the story takes place in the late 12th century, the armored helmets that King Henry's children play in are right out of the 15th century, the same as one might see in films about Joan of Arc, or Henry the IVth and Vth. This choice by the costumers must have been purely aesthetic because the armor of the last 100 years of medieval times was by far the most splendid visually. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
King Henry II: Well, Thomas Becket. Are you satisfied? Here I am, stripped, kneeling at your tomb, while those treacherous Saxon monks of yours are getting ready to thrash me. Me - with my delicate skin. I bet you'd never have done the same for me. But - I suppose I have to do this penance and make my peace with you. Hmm. What a strange end to our story. How cold it was when we last met - on the shores of France. Funny, it's nearly always been cold - except at the beginning, when we were friends....
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Alternate Versions

Two different versions of the closing "A Paramount Release" card exist - one print has these words appear inside the standard Paramount logo of the time superimposed in red, while another has these words as plain text with a small version of a completely different Paramount logo (with a full circle of stars), also in red, beneath them. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Elvis (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Dies Irae
(Medieval Latin Hymn)
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User Reviews

 
A bizarre love triangle - Henry II, Becket and God
8 December 2007 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Richard Burton is "Becket" in this 1964 film starring Peter O'Toole as Henry II and John Gielgud in a small role as the King of France. King Henry creates a Frankenstein monster when he makes his best friend, Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, believing this will solve all of his problems with the Church. It's a decision he lives to regret. Becket finds that he loves serving God and is in his rightful place, living a life of prayer, retreat, and helping the poor and the needy. When he comes up against the King, his response is not what Henry expects. Becket now serves another master - God.

This is such a beautiful film, not only the sweeping landscapes and muted colors but the stunning, sometimes stark images throughout of the two men, the scene on the beach toward the end in particular.

"Becket" is a clash of two titan actors and historical figures. O'Toole and Burton, so different in their acting approaches, are a match made in heaven, with O'Toole playing Henry as a childish, selfish rogue in a very overt performance and Burton playing Becket with an internalized quiet strength and resolve. They are both magnificent. Both deserved the Oscars for which they were nominated; they didn't receive them. O'Toole would go on to play Henry II again in Lion in Winter, giving him an interesting place in cinematic history - he's the only actor to play the same character in two completely different films, neither one of which was a sequel or prequel (before you invoke the name of Al Pacino).

Much is made in these films of historical inaccuracies. What makes these period movies so wonderful is whether or not you watch them knowing much of the history, after you've seen them, you rush to the Internet to read more. I was most interested in the homoerotic aspects of the relationship between Becket and Henry - but none was mentioned in anything I read. It was, however, very apparent on the screen.

The '60s was really a time of these great historical dramas, similar to that period later on when Merchant-Ivory produced their many sweeping films. In a time of Spiderman and Transformers, these wonderful character-driven films are sorely missed. This is a particularly fabulous one.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Latin | Welsh

Release Date:

11 March 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Becket See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,912, 28 January 2007

Gross USA:

$149,327

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$149,327
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (Westrex Recording System)| Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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