Ah, Christmas! A time for family reunions. Things may, at times, get a bit tense as everyone is gathering together in confined quarters. But few Christmas gatherings compare to Henry II of England and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine as they gather with their sons at the castle where she has been imprisoned by her husband.
Joining in the festivities are Henry and Eleanor’s three sons: Richard the Lionheart, Geoffrey and John. Also present are Alais Capet, Henry’s mistress who is not as vacuous as she appears, and Philip Capet, the King of France who is Alais’ half-brother.
Alliances and allegiances shift as both rapiers and rapier wits are on display.
The cast is masterfully led by Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn, who snagged her third Oscar for this film. Anthony Hopkins appeared as Richard the Lionheart and future James Bond Timothy Dalton played King Philip. Geoffrey and John were played by John Castle and Nigel Terry, respectively.
Based on James Goldman’s 1965 play, Goldman picked up an Oscar for Adapted Screenplay. The movie’s third Oscar went to John Barry for his musical score. O’Toole, director Anthony Harvey, and costume designer Margaret Furse all earned Oscar nominations, as did the film for Best Picture.
This is not a fast paced film, but it pays dividends with the joyfully biting interplay between Hepburn, O’Toole and the rest of the cast.