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The Private Life of Henry VIII [DVD]

4.0 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Charles Laughton, Robert Donat, Franklin Dyall, Miles Mander, Laurence Hanray
  • Directors: Alexander Korda
  • Writers: Arthur Wimperis, Lajos Biró
  • Producers: Alexander Korda, Ludovico Toeplitz
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Network
  • DVD Release Date: 27 April 2009
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001URRZIW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,479 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Charles Laughton won an Oscar for this performance as the much-married monarch, in a film which remains one of the UK's greatest international successes. Picking up Henry's reign after his betrothal to Anne Boleyn (Merle Oberon), wife number two, this Alexander Korda-directed costume epic follows the progress of the King's subsequent marriages to Jane Seymour (Wendy Barrie), Anne of Cleves (Elsa Lanchester), Katherine Howard (Binnie Barnes), and the woman who outlived him, Catherine Parr (Everley Gregg).

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As this is such a famous film, I thought I would watch it as I am a Tudor fanatic. There is no real story line and the wives get rushed through the film so you only get a glimpse of them. On a plus side, it was good to see that they had an accurate Anne Boleyn who had dark hair and dark eyes.
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Format: VHS Tape
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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Format: 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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Format: VHS Tape
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.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
although a bit dated its a good film I loved it another one for my collection especially Charles Laughton one of my favourite actors.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Did we really watch or make films like this - Worth to watch for Laughton shows his fine acting skills much
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