A Man for All Seasons (1966)

Written by John Chard on May 8, 2016

The agony of the moral high ground.

Fred Zinnemann directs and Robert Bolt adapts the screenplay from his own play. It stars Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern, Robert Shaw, Orson Welles, Susannah York, Nigel Davenport and John Hurt. Music is by Georges Delerue and cinematography by Ted Moore. Plot has Scofield as Sir Thomas More, the man who refused to cede to the mighty machinations of King Henry VIII (Shaw).

It's very much an actors movie, beautifully literate and costumed and photographed up to the nines. So not one for those more keen on the action orientated historical epic, then! The story is thriving on the anguish of Thomas More, who is torn between loyalty to his King and his own moral beliefs, the beliefs of his religion system and the potential damning of his soul. The political and religious machinations positively pulse throughout, vividly brought to life by a cast of great thespians (Scofield is as great as you have heard).

Great credit has to go to Zinneman, one of the deserved recipients of the 6 Oscars the film garnered. He never lets the cast run away with things, no chewing the scenery or smell the fart acting, he keeps them in check and they respond by providing an utterly fascinating and compelling historical saga. But most of all, with all the royal pomp on show, it's the intelligence of the writing that shines brightest. The dialogue via the sharp script throws cloaks of suspicion over everything being played out. Religion and politics, huh, it's for the birds.

Top film making. 8/10