In the south of France, 1183, Henry II (Peter O'Toole) summons his family to a Christmas conference. His sons all have designs on his crown, whilst the presence of the King's mistress (Jane Merrow) adds spice to his exchanges with his wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn). Hepburn won an Oscar for her performance, and the film also gained statuettes for Best Screenplay and Music.
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 humour 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 is also an infamous homoerotic exchange between Philip of France (Timothy Dalton) and Richard the Lionhearted (Anthony Hopkins). Both actors were making their feature film debuts. --Rochelle O'Gorman, Amazon.com