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A Man for All Seasons [1966] [VHS]

Paul Scofield , Wendy Hiller , Fred Zinnemann    Universal, suitable for all   VHS Tape
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
Price: 6.96
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Product details

  • Actors: Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern, Robert Shaw, Orson Welles
  • Directors: Fred Zinnemann
  • Format: PAL, Colour
  • Language: English, French, Latin, Spanish
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Columbia Tristar
  • VHS Release Date: 4 May 1992
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CJHY
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,504 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description


Robert Bolt's successful play was not considered a hot commercial property by Columbia Pictures--a period piece about a moral issue without a star, without even a love story. Perhaps that's why Columbia left director Fred Zinnemann alone to make A Man for All Seasons, as long as he stuck to a relatively small budget. The results took everyone by surprise, as the talky morality play became a box-office hit and collected the top Oscars for 1966. At the play's heart is the standoff between King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw, in young lion form) and Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield, in an Oscar-winning performance). Henry wants More's official approval of divorce, but More's strict ethical and religious code will not let him waffle. More's rectitude is a source of exasperation to Cardinal Wolsey (Orson Welles in a cameo), who chides, "If you could just see facts flat on without that horrible moral squint." Zinnemann's approach is all simplicity, and indeed the somewhat prosaic staging doesn't create a great deal of cinematic excitement. But the language is worth savoring, and the ethical politics are debated with all the calm and majesty of an absorbing chess game. --Robert Horton

Product Description

Oscar-winning adaptation of Robert Bolt's historical play. Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield) has to wrestle with his conscience when he is appointed High Chancellor to King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw). The King wishes More's support in his decision to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, in favour of Anne Boleyn. When More refuses and resigns from his office, he falls foul of a plot by Thomas Cromwell (Leo McKern) to remove him permanently.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
105 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not quite Utopia 3 Feb 2005
Films such as this are rare today; 'A Man for All Seasons' turns not on action sequences of battles past or present, nor on love affairs, or indeed political issues that have a burning relevance for today. It is not a comedy, nor a tragedy in the classic sense. In a word, it would seem to have little to recommend it -- however, it is one of the best film ever produced. Turning largely on the issue of personal integrity and the conflict of competing calls to faithfulness, this is a drama of the interior struggle of Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England, writ large across the political/religious landscape of Henry VIII's England.
The whole tone of the film is excellent. From the opening scenes of couriers dashing from Wolsey to More, backdrops of pre-Renaissance England fill the screen, from the magnificent but appropriate un-ornate manor houses and parliamentary scenes (the set of Westminster Hall, a building in which I once worked) to the costuming and music, period in style and instrumentation. The director Fred Zimmermann resisted the urge to provide orchestral music as a background; indeed, through much of the film, there is no music at all, as the drama itself carries the weight of the narrative and atmosphere. The cinematographer, Ted Moore, as well as the director received Academy Awards for their work.
This is an actor's film, the force of the drama being driven by their performances. Exceptional acting by John Hurt, Leo McKern, Nigel Davenport and Robert Shaw enhance lead actor Paul Scofield's Oscar-winning portrayal. Scofield presents the intellectual More as a character of supreme integrity (following Bolt's play perfectly), an integrity hard to maintain in the shifting sands of Henry VIII's drive to break with Rome to secure a divorce.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Conscience of the King 15 Mar 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I remember the first time I saw this film in the mid-Sixties in Middlesbrough on a school trip. I thought it utterly wonderful, most of my classmates thought it wordy and foolish.

Sir Thomas More is played as a man of unbending conscience who depends upon his lawyerly skills to keep him from the axe (for this is England, not Spain) as such it is an evocation of the joys of hairsplitting. At times almost Shakesperarian in its language, it is a play about words and what they mean. More must seem a terribly unreal person to our present generations, but Scofield plays him very believably as a rather autistic good man who finds the foibles of others hard to accept. He is surrounded by a bevy of thespian talent. Nigel Davenport as the stentorian Duke of Norfolk, Leo McKern as the evil Cromwell, John Hurt as the man who gains all and loses all, Robert Shaw giving us a Henry VIII that (like Alec Guinesses's Charles I) sticks in the mind; and Colin Blakeney as the servant Matthew. It's a joy to behold. (And I've forgotten to mention Orson Welles and many many others).

I cannot think how many times I've seen it; please give it a shot, I think you'll enjoy it.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Film For All Collections 10 April 2007
This tells the better known part of the story of Sir Thomas More, who was raised from lawyer and then judge to become Lord Chancellor or England, only to be sentenced to death and beheaded for treason, having failed to take an oath which would legitimize the divorce of Henry VIII from his Spanish wife and his soon-following marriage to Anne Boleyn (later also beheaded). More's book "Utopia" is not mentioned in this film. The film itself is a production of such quality that it is hard to praise it enough. Directed by Fred Zinnemann, the photography, especially of "sweet Thames" and its bird life, is of the highest and most moving quality, though in fact filmed not on the Thames itself (the banks of which are now largely developed between Hampton Court and Chelsea) but on the Beaulieu River in Hampshire. The acting likewise, featuring some of the best British film actors of the time of filming, as well as Orson Welles (playing the previous Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey). The screenplay by the unrivalled Robert Bolt is what really puts the seal on this most valued film. If you have never seen A Man For All Seasons, see it.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty, Gripping, Flawless! 30 Sep 2006
By Franco
Despite other customer reviews that have questioned the historical credibility of this film, agnostic script-writer Robert Bolt produces an accurate depiction of Thomas More according to original transcripts. Okay, so the whole catalogue of More's life hasn't been included within this film (including the torture of heretics), but realistically that would be impossible.

Although it is true that More did torture heretics that by today standards may seem somewhat barbaric, you must keep in mind the societal/political period in which More lived - this was the English renaissance 15th century, and laws and social mandate were remarkably different to the modern day society we all know. Needless to say this does not justify such an act of cruelty. However, law is a key theme of this film. And it is most likely that More's interrogation and torturing answered to hard-line politics intolerant of heretical viewpoints. More did not create legislation, but was renowned for his obedience to the law (which if not for Richard Rich perjury would have saved his neck!) and foremost his impartiality as a statesman.

A Man for All Seasons is a film carried by fantastic script-writing, impeccable acting from all members of the cast, and authentic cinematography that really generates the atmosphere of the period. Unlike many modern hollywood movies that largely incorporate special effects, this is quite simply a film of substance over style. For those who may be slightly dubious as regards to the religious context, do not be dissuaded, for this is a film for people of all beliefs, especially those interested in the virtues of integrity, conviction, and courage in the face of adversity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars historical correct
as an avid Tudor historian I thought the film to be a good representation of the circumstances surrounding the raise and demise of Sir Thomas Moore
Published 1 month ago by Richard HArper
5.0 out of 5 stars More of this, please.
On the face of it this film would not seem to be one that could hold your attention, but it does in spectacular style. Read more
Published 1 month ago by markd
5.0 out of 5 stars But still no Blu Ray release
One of the truly great academy award winning films of the sixties. Widescreen and colour but we still await a restored high definition release
Published 3 months ago by Telletubby
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film
Really good film. It isn't dated which was surprising. I thought it was probably made in the seventies and then saw it was 1966!
Published 3 months ago by David Nunn
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fred Zinnemann Academy Award film.
History and entertainment in one wonderful film, starring Paul Scofield, Robert Shaw, Orson Welles, Wendy Hiller and Susannah York, ably supported by John Hurt, Leo McKern and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Helen Wingate
5.0 out of 5 stars ACTING AT ITS BEST
Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
Paul Scofield and Robert Shaw Characterizations are superb, together with a great supporting cast and high production values... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Trajan
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this film!!
Fantastic, have used it for a history lesson on the Tudors, brought memories back! Swift despatch and great service thanks
Published 5 months ago by Ann Sigsworth
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
The quality was very good and the story never changes. I recommend it to everyone. It was very inexpensive too.
Published 6 months ago by Carole Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Winter Warmer
This is a great film, if you enjoy anything historical then this is the film for you. Now the cold winter nights are drawing this is truly a winter warmer
Published 6 months ago by Sue Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars 1966 and all that
How rich was the theatre in London in those days. Wonderful acting from actors who spoke beautifully and clearly. Read more
Published 8 months ago by S.M. Johnson
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