I think most of the comments for this film are rather unfair. Unfair to the actor Charlton Heston and unfair to the film itself. Please let me explain:
It seems to me a sort of "England, England!" thing is standing in the way of a fair and objective comment on this film.
To do away with the 1988 version of Heston as a failed attempt to improve on Fred Zinneman is not only an unfair comparison but also a foolish one.
To begin with: Heston's version is far closer and more true to Robert Bolt's play than is the Fred Zinneman version. In addition, Heston's performance, although more obviously dramatical than that of Scofield, is more passionate. The scene in which he thrashes Roper and stands for his daughter Meg is simply the greatest ("They put about too nimbly!!!"), as is his performance with the Duke of Norfolk when they discuss water spaniels.
Next to Heston, the performance of his fellow actors should not be discarded.
Roy Kinnear, bless his soul, is brilliant as the common man (a Robert Bolt invention that stayed alive in this version but was left out of the 1966 Zinneman production)
In addition, the role of the king is played simply brilliantly by Martin Chamberlain. The scene in More's garden is an unrivalled scene.
Vanessa Redgrave gives one of her finest performances as More's wife. The scene in the Tower where they part for the last time is always tearing me apart! (Oh God, all these plain simple men!)
And of course the roles of the "two ugly ladies" Benjamin Withrow and Jonathan Hackett are delicious and not to be found anywhere so great in the 1966 Zinneman version.
So I beg you: Please be fair, enjoy the Zinneman version, but also take the time to appreciate Heston's version!
[April 30, 2012] I'm so glad it's out on DVD now!