Man for All Seasons

Man for All Seasons

4.5 18
Director: Fred Zinnemann

Cast: Fred Zinnemann, Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern


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Adapted by Robert Bolt and Constance Willis from Bolt's hit stage play, A Man for All Seasons stars Paul Scofield, triumphantly repeating his stage role as Sir Thomas More. The crux of the film is the staunchly Catholic More's refusal to acknowledge King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw)'s break from the church to divorce his first wife and…  See more details below


Adapted by Robert Bolt and Constance Willis from Bolt's hit stage play, A Man for All Seasons stars Paul Scofield, triumphantly repeating his stage role as Sir Thomas More. The crux of the film is the staunchly Catholic More's refusal to acknowledge King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw)'s break from the church to divorce his first wife and marry Anne Boleyn (an unbilled Vanessa Redgrave). Sir Thomas willingly goes to the chopping block rather than sacrifice his ideals. Director Fred Zinnemann retains the play's verbosity without sacrificing the film's strong sense of visuals. The impeccably chosen cast includes Wendy Hiller as Sir Thomas' likably contentious wife Alice, John Hurt as the deceitful Richard Rich (More's put-downs of this despicable character provide some of the film's biggest laughs), Orson Welles as a dour Cardinal Woolsey, Leo McKern as the ambitious Thomas Cromwell, and Susannah York as More's daughter Margaret. The "Common Man," an important bridging-the-scenes character in the original play, is removed from the film version, which does just fine without him. A Man for All Seasons won six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, as well as seven British Film Academy awards.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
This beautifully made, brilliantly acted, and altogether stirring film version of Robert Bolt's 1960 play dramatizes one of history's most infamous clashes between religion and politics. Among the film's many distinctions is Paul Scofield's Oscar-winning performance as Sir Thomas More, the 16th-century English judge and chancellor pressured to endorse the adulterous liaison of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn -- a union that prompts a break with the Catholic Church and the formation of the state-sponsored Church of England. More's personal faith compels him to condemn this expedient, yet too vigorously a protest will undoubtedly lead to accusations of treason and, possibly, even to his death. Henry VIII is wonderfully played by Robert Shaw, who earned an Oscar nomination for his depiction of the colorful king as educated, charming, and sensitive but also volatile, arrogant, and imperious. Also registering strongly among the uniformly superlative cast is Leo McKern, whose Thomas Cromwell is among those putting the squeeze on More, and Orson Welles, whose five-minute turn as Cardinal Wolsey is masterful in its economy of expression. Bolt's screenplay retains everything that made the stage drama so powerful. Consequently, this is a very talky film, but the speeches are so well crafted and delivered that you'll never notice the relative paucity of physical movement. An unalloyed triumph for producer-director Fred Zinnemann (High Noon), this Oscar-winning Best Picture of 1966 has stood the test of time and remains one of the most profound, and compelling, historical dramas ever brought to the screen.
All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
A Man for All Seasons is a handsome adaptation of the stage play on which it is based, with fine acting, solemn issues, and a message of moral order that conservative audiences of the 1960s found attractive. Historians, however, have objected to the glorification of Sir Thomas More, who was hardly the innocent martyr portrayed by playwright/screenwriter Robert Bolt. For example, the historical More urged the executions of various "heretics," a distasteful matter that the film somehow overlooks. The appeal of A Man for All Seasons to 1966 audiences was a direct reaction to the cultural upheavals in the world at large. In a era where once-confident values were being questioned and sometimes destroyed, the story of the principled More, who sacrifices himself rather than give in to change and wickedness, had resonance among those who longed for simpler days with more concrete values. AMPAS, still a bit embarrassed over having honored the libertine Tom Jones three years earlier, showered the film with six Oscars, including Best Picture.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

The Life of Saint Thomas More featurette

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Paul Scofield Thomas More
Wendy Hiller Alice More
Leo McKern Thomas Cromwell
Robert Shaw Henry VIII
Orson Welles Cardinal Wolsey
Susannah York Margaret More
Vanessa Redgrave Anne Boleyn
Nigel Davenport Duke of Norfolk
John Hurt Richard Rich
Corin Redgrave William Roper
Colin Blakely Matthew
Yootha Joyce Averil Machin
Cyril Luckham Archbishop Cranmer
Thomas Heathcote Boatman
Anthony Nicholls King's Representative
John Nettleton Jailer
Eira Heath Matthew's wife
Molly Urquhart Maid
Paul Hardwick Courtier
Michael Latimer Norfolk's Aide
Philip Brack Captain of Guard
Martin Boddey Governor of Tower
Eric Mason Executioner
Matt Zimmerman Messenger
Jack Gwyllim Chief Justice

Technical Credits
Fred Zinnemann Director,Producer
Eric Allwright Makeup
Robert Bolt Screenwriter
John Box Production Designer
Joan Bridge Costumes/Costume Designer
Georges Delerue Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
George Frost Makeup
Elizabeth Haffenden Costumes/Costume Designer
Ralph Kemplen Editor
Josie MacAvin Set Decoration/Design
Terence Marsh Production Designer
Ted Moore Cinematographer
Constance Willis Screenwriter

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- A Man for All Seasons
1. Start [5:15]
2. A Butcher's Summons [4:13]
3. With the Cardinal [6:43]
4. Petitions [1:00]
5. Home to Chelsea [5:07]
6. Saying "No" to a Heretic [4:06]
7. The Duke of Norfolk [1:22]
8. The New Lord Chancellor [1:47]
9. "Surprise" Visit [5:02]
10. Quiet Words [8:20]
11. Catching the Tide [4:12]
12. A Bad, Dangerous Spy [3:22]
13. Rich & the New Secretary [4:30]
14. The King's Answer [1:20]
15. More Resigns [1:36]
16. Explaining His Decision [1:34]
17. The King's Wedding Day [10:31]
18. A Letter [2:39]
19. Conversation With Cromwell [1:04]
20. Ending a Friendship [5:07]
21. News of the Oath [4:57]
22. In the Tower [1:36]
23. An Inquiry [2:34]
24. Family Visit [7:21]
25. The Trial [7:56]
26. Richard Rich Testifies [6:12]
27. Verdict & Discharge [4:21]
28. Sentence Carried Out [3:48]


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A Man for All Seasons 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simply one of the most magnificent movies of all time. Skillfully produced and performed, splendidly cast and with a wonderful score, this movie belongs in any collection. My focus is the cast. In my opinion, Paul Scofield is one of the finest actors of the 20th century, and his masterful, understated but powerful portrayal of Thomas More is as stirring as it is heartbreaking. Wonder Boy Orson Welles is incredible as Wolsey, presenting the son of a butcher with cunning and gusto. And, to offer a further opinion, with the exception of Charles Laughton, few actors have presented Henry VIII as well as Robert Shaw - he is stunning and can be considered a measure against which those seeking to perform as the troubled king should be judged. John Hurt's Richard Rich is so well executed that when he abandon's More, you can almost feel a twinge of sympathy for him and his plight of being ambitious while working for a man of uncompromising morality. Leo McKern is a pure natural as the jackal that was Thomas Cromwell. You'll be hard pressed to find a more painful moment than when he orders More's books to be removed. The scenery, production design, costuming, the music - every aspect of this film does justice to the setting and to the characters. It is a tremendously emotional piece, filled with some of cinema's greatest moments. Watch, and enjoy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is so moving that one forgets how long it is. I enjoy this movie many times. I made my European History class watch this and the students were silent until the end and they usually talk during movies.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recommend this movie as one of the top ten of all time. The ideas are universal and should be studied by all beginning in middle school. The photography alone is worth the time as well as outstanding performances by the entire cast. Thomas More is a hero for all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the greatest movie that has ever been made - I say this with no exaggeration. It has absolutely incredible music by Georges Delarue, and the greatest acting of the 20th Century, by the most skillful group of actors ever assembled, including Orson Wells, Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Robert Shaw, Leo McKern, and on and on. This should be required viewing in every school and in every country.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'A Man For All Seasons' is the viscerally engaging, taut case study for Sir Thomas More, an English nobleman of influence who is at first courted, then condemned by Henry VIII (Robert Shaw) after he opposes the king¿s divorce that would allow Henry to marry for a 6th time. This is a powerful closet drama, full of finely wrought performances. Orson Welles is really something in his cameo as Cardinal Wolsey. Wendy Hiller plays Sir Thomas¿ dutiful, though forthright wife. Leo McKern is brilliant as the self-satisfying jackal of destruction, Thomas Cromwell. But the centerpiece of the film remains Paul Scofield's meticulous handling of Thomas More - a truly inspiring tour de force that is brilliant, spellbinding and ever worthy of the Best Actor Statuette. Columbia Tri-star has given us a DVD to equal its subject matter. Colors are rich, bold and vibrant. Flesh tones are quite naturally rendered. Overall the image is quite solid. Age related artifacts are kept to a bare minimum. Although colors are well balanced and black levels appear solid, there is some minor edge enhancement, shimmering and aliasing present throughout the DVD. The audio is mono but well presented - only sporadically sounding strident. There are no extras.
KennyJ More than 1 year ago
Paul Scofield is amazing! The entire cast is amazing! The musical score is perfect, as is the script. This is the genre at its absolute best!
This should be in everyone's library.
Cecilcatholic More than 1 year ago
I have heard so much about this movie and now I own it! Fantastic movie and wholesome spiritual movie. Makes you think and motivates you to become a better person/more dedicated Christian among the "wolves".
SDH55 More than 1 year ago
While the script has now been proven to be less then historically accurate (alas, Sir Thomas More was a bit more calculating than he is made to appear in this story), it more than makes up for it with outstanding performances by Paul Schofield, Orson Wells, Dame Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern (of " PBS' Rumpole of the Bailey"), Robert Shaw (of "The Sting" and "From Russia with Love"), Susannah York, and John Hurt (of "I, Claudius"). This is the creme de la creme of American and British actors of the mid 1960s. The costuming is lush and compliments the artistic photography (which almost makes you feel like you can take a deep breath and breathe in 15th century England.) Henry the Eighth, having inherited the throne from a weakling older brother needs a male heir to the throne. He married his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon--as it turns out his first wife. After 24 years of marriage, he's frustrated to have no living male heir (only Mary, the future Queen of Scots has survived) and has convinced himself that the problem is with Catherine's age (rather than his early acquired and now burgeoning syphilis). Seeking to put aside Catherine, he tries to bargain (unsuccessfully) with the Pope to have the marriage annulled. As all avenues of resolution are blocked by the Pope, King Henry, (aided and urged on by Cromwell, and later Cranmer) decides to divorce Queen Catherine so that he may marry his attractive mistress, Anne Boleyn and hopefully produce male heirs to secure the Tudor succession. Enter Sir Thomas More, who served as King Henry's Roman Catholic Chancellor. He was a brilliant and unusually canny man, well educated, trained in the law and of noble birth. (In real life, he was not known as particularly "religious," but was acknowledged as a wise and just man.) More, who up until Henry's decision to divorce Catherine, was a close confidant of the King. Had King Henry been content with simply setting Queen Catherine aside, he may not have created a formidable foe in Sir Thomas. The other issue at stake (besides the divorce) was the untouchable wealth of the Catholic Church in Henry's extensive kingdom. The wealth of the Church was comparable to, if not exceeding, that of Henry's realm. For a cash-strapped king, divorce, a young beautiful mistress who can supply untold male heirs, money, and vast land holdings must have seemed irresistible. He went ahead and divorced Queen Catherine and became became the resolute, outspoken opponent of Sir Thomas. The stage is now set for a brilliant confrontation between God and state. Enjoy!
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Ulysses30 More than 1 year ago
Great story telling. Great everything. Well, maybe not everything. I LOVE this movie, but the one thing that does bug me about it is that it makes Thomas Moore(Scofield) look as if he was Perfect. He did stand for his blieves and was a very focused, attentive man. But, he was not perfect. Watch this movie first, then watch The Other Boleyn Girl:two great movies, very connected and contemporary times. Beautiful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you ever have the chance to see this on stage, take it - it is richer, and yet simpler, with the addition of an everyman character who poles boats, runs messages, etc.