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Conscience of the King
on 15 March 2008
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.