Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Lion in Winter (1968) (2nd time)

1183 AD: King Henry II's three sons all want to inherit the throne, but he won't commit to a choice. They and his wife variously plot to force him. [imdb]

Nominated for 7 Oscars:

Best Picture
Best Director: Anthony Harvey
Best Actor: Peter O'Toole
Best Actress: Katharine Hepburn (WINNER)
Best Adapted Screenplay (WINNER)
Best Original Score (WINNER)
Best Costume Design

Katharine Hepburn broke her first record that year, winning her 3rd leading Oscar (out of 4) in a fierce crucial battle, with both her AND Streisand coming out victoriously in a historical Oscar tie. Both Vanessa Redgrave and Joanne Woodward gave them a run for the award. But getting back to the film: it's a classic and it should've probably won Best Picture. It was at least a favorite, until Oliver! showed up and Oscar remembered how much it loves musicals and needs to kiss and makeup with Carol Reed.
As it's based on a play, there's a lot of pressure on the screenplay and it's a fine adaptation I guess. The dialogue is definitely the star of the film, even though O'Toole and Hepburn probably give career-best performances. But often enough the dialogue lines are too witty to be always functional; it's like Juno for its era :)) Nobody spoke like that, really.
I was exagerating I guess, but you don't need to have brilliant quotes all the time, all around. Hey, I liiiike The Lion in Winter, but it could've been more dramatic and less stylish. The acting is superb all around and it's a classic, maybe among the last of its era before the Midnight Cowboy trend changed everything.
My rating for the film: 8.5/10. Hepburn's best indeed.


  1. Love this movie! Just perfect!

  2. It's an absolutley superb picture with fantastic performances across the board and full written well rounded characters. The score also really deserved it's Oscar, I surprised you didn't mention that or at least allude to the pounding title sequence.

    With regards the anachronistic dialogue and events (Christmas trees in 1183?!?) writer James Goldman has said these were deliberatly used to give a contemporary feel to the family dynamic.

    I performed in a stage version of this about 5 years ago (as Geoffrey) and I have to say I think it's some of the best dialogue I've had had the opportunity to speak.

    "I know. You Know I know. I know you know I know, we know that Henry knows and Henry knows we know it." Delicious

  3. "I dressed my maids as Amazons and rode bare-breasted halfway to Damascus. Louis had a seizure and I damn near died of windburn... but the troops were dazzled. "

  4. Maybe I need to rewatch it. Acting was fabulous, others were, well, okay.

  5. Oh my GOD I love this movie. Love it, love it, love it . Runs like a Gay stole my favourite line, so I'll combat with "If I'm so devious, why don't you go? Don't stand their quivering in limbo love me little lamb, or leave me.