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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rip-roaring fun - with the emphasis on the roaring!
The Private Life of Henry VIII is great rip-roaring fun, racing through Henry's last five marriages in an hour-and-a-half (an opening caption explaining the first was too dull to bother with). More gossip than history, the performances are spot-on, from Charles Laughton's Henry, setting the benchmark for all other actors attacking the role, to the servants below stairs...
Published on 1 Feb 2008 by Trevor Willsmer

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3.0 out of 5 stars An Old Film
Bought this as husband thought he remembered it as a good film, but it is very dated. Still, Charles Laughton acts very well in the film, although not true to time of Henry VIII.
Published 14 months ago by margaret M


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rip-roaring fun - with the emphasis on the roaring!, 1 Feb 2008
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Private Life of Henry VIII [DVD] (DVD)
The Private Life of Henry VIII is great rip-roaring fun, racing through Henry's last five marriages in an hour-and-a-half (an opening caption explaining the first was too dull to bother with). More gossip than history, the performances are spot-on, from Charles Laughton's Henry, setting the benchmark for all other actors attacking the role, to the servants below stairs who act as an earthy chorus to the royal bedhopping. The wives fare pretty well, Merle Oberon making a strong impression in her brief pre-execution scenes as Ann Boleyn and Elsa Lanchester's outrageously comic turn as Ann of Cleves particular standouts. Impossible not to enjoy, why can't modern British period pieces have this much zest and be this much fun?

While there are many NTSC public domain versions available of varying quality, Network's official PAL DVD boasts much better picture quality.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best black'n'white films, 4 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This was the film that really put British cinema on the map, and there are some masterful performances. The most noticeable are Charles Laughton (Henry VIII), Merle Oberon (Anne Boleyn) and Binnie Barnes (Catherine Howard.) However despite the lavish costumes (especially Oberon's and Barnes') the film was severely lacking in historical depth. The jovial Henry VIII played by Laughton was very far removed from the vicious tyrant of historical fact and the sultry temptress Catherine Howard was in historical fact a rather stupid and naive teenager.
Despite this it is a pleasure to watch good costume, hilarious in parts, touching in others (especially Anne Boleyn's death and the love-scenes between Culpepper and Catherine) and on a rainy afternoon it's great to sit down with it and a plate of chips and a good friend!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars film review. Private life of Henry 8 th, 14 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Private Life of Henry VIII [DVD] (DVD)
I am 85 years old. I saw this this film when I was a boy and enjoyed it. Any film with Charles Laughton is O.k. with me.Wonderful Actor !
BILL MILLS.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The King's Barber!, 10 July 2014
This review is from: The Private Life of Henry VIII [DVD] (DVD)
A great performance by Charles Laughton. No longeurs. A decent amount of amusement and some effective innuendo. No historical veracity but follows the bare bones of truth in the Culpeper/Katherine Howard liaison. Something cinematic happening in the direction by Alexander Korda. A lively script. Rattles by in 90 minutes of fun.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 30 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Private Life of Henry VIII [DVD] (DVD)
Excellent Laughton
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5.0 out of 5 stars Henry VIII, 10 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Private Life of Henry VIII [DVD] (DVD)
We found this DVD to be exactly what we wanted. We were looking for a great entertainment and got it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An Old Film, 5 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Private Life of Henry VIII [DVD] (DVD)
Bought this as husband thought he remembered it as a good film, but it is very dated. Still, Charles Laughton acts very well in the film, although not true to time of Henry VIII.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Off with his head, 15 May 2013
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This review is from: The Private Life of Henry VIII [DVD] (DVD)
Did we really watch or make films like this - Worth to watch for Laughton shows his fine acting skills much
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great performances, 1 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Private Life of Henry VIII [DVD] (DVD)
Top acting from Mr and Mrs Laughton.Funny/tragic script.Feelgood movie.Binnie Barnes excellent also.Charles wpm best actor for this, well deserved.A must for a collection.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars LOVERS OF HISTORICAL DRAMAS SHOULD LOOK ELSEWHERE..., 11 Nov 2002
By 
Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This is a somewhat disappointing historical drama, directed by Alexander Korda. While Charles Laughton does, indeed, give an excellent performance as Henry VIII, the film suffers from its screenplay, which chooses to focus on Henry's last five marriages, with emphasis on his fourth and probably least important marriage, that to Anne of Cleves. One has to wonder if her prominence in the film was due to the role being played by Elsa Lancaster, Laughton's wife at the time.
The most important marriage, that to Katherine of Aragon, is dismissed as being of no interest. This is an amazing and absurd statement, given the fact that it was this marriage that ultimately set England on the path to Protestantism and the establishment of the Church of England. As a historical drama, the film leaves a lot to be desired, as it suffers from superficial treatment.
The film begins with the execution of Ann Boleyn, played by the lovely Merle Oberon, who, despite star billing, is only in the film for several minutes. The film then moves on to the marriage to Jane Seymour, played by an actress with a thirties style hair bob. It is Jane who gives the King his heart's desire, a son and heir, before succumbing to death shortly after childbirth.
The film then segues into the marriage to Anne of Cleves, which role is played with comedic abandon by Ms. Manchester. This is followed by Henry's marriage to Katherine Howard, a young wanton who cuckolds the king with Thomas Culpepper, one of the King's Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber. The role of the hapless Thomas Culpepper is played by screen great, Robert Donat. Katherine Howard, as did Anne Boleyn, ends up losing her head on the chopping block for her treasonous transgression. Henry's last wife, Katherine Parr, is merely depicted as a loving and caring woman, watching out for Henry in his dotage.
The video itself is of very poor quality, with a lot of static which renders portions of the film's dialogue inaudible. It is also disconcerting to have many of the female cast wandering about the set with nineteen thirties style hair bobs, as this serves to have a jarring effect. For a better and historically more accurate picture of the wives of King Henry VIII, one would do well to view the BBC production, "The Six Wives of Henry VIII", which is available on DVD and as a set of six video cassettes.
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The Private Life of Henry VIII [DVD]
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