Winner of six Oscars—including Best Picture—this gripping historical drama concentrates on the last seven years of the life of Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield). The struggle between the chancellor and King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw) hinges on Henry’s determination to break with Rome so he can divorce his wife and wed again. A Catholic, More resigns because of his inability to go along with such heresy, and hopes to live out his life as a private citizen. But the king wants nothing less More’s public approval to his headstrong course. The stellar cast includes Orson Welles as Cardinal Wolsey.

“During a scene with Scofield and Shaw in More’s garden, Shaw’s character becomes angry. Each time he spoke a certain line, a violent gust of wind would blow up and shake the trees. ‘The sudden wind sprang up each time that particular line was spoken—in long shots, reverse shots, close-ups, and we always had a perfect match in the editing. We had exactly the kind of weather we wanted all the way through shooting, but on the last day, just when I had finally said, ‘It's a wrap,’ rain started and fell for weeks afterwards.’” —Turner Classic Movies

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• History Today reviews the film.

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Fred Zinnemann
Running Time
120 minutes
Digital, Color