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The Lion in Winter (1968)



Average Rating: 8.3/10
Reviews Counted: 31
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 3

Sharper and wittier than your average period piece, The Lion in Winter is a tale of palace intrigue bolstered by fantastic performances from Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn, and Anthony Hopkins in his big-screen debut.


Average Rating: 8.3/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 2

Sharper and wittier than your average period piece, The Lion in Winter is a tale of palace intrigue bolstered by fantastic performances from Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn, and Anthony Hopkins in his big-screen debut.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 12,580

My Rating

Movie Info

The year is 1183. Like many a modern-day politician, Britain's King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) finds it occasionally useful to take his wife out of mothballs and parade her before the public. Henry's Queen Eleanor (Katharine Hepburn), long exiled to a faraway castle, is "invited" to join Henry and their three sons for a family reunion. In this way, Henry hopes to maintain a stronghold on his Empire and to prevent the balance of power from shifting to Eleanor or to one of his sons: Richard the


Drama, Classics

Jun 19, 2001

Nelson Entertainment

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All Critics (31) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (28) | Rotten (3) | DVD (7)

Henry and Eleanor are reduced to a TV-sized version of the sovereigns next door, their epic struggle shrunk to sitcom squabbles.

July 14, 2014 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

James Goldman's screenplay, so chic and sophisticated to the ears of suburbanites, is chock-full of the worst kind of sophomoric fiddling with what Goldman takes to be genuine highfalutin lingo.

July 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An intense, fierce, personal drama put across by outstanding performances of Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Director Anthony Harvey opened up Goldman's play into authentic spaces far from any proscenium, and remained faithful to an energetic drama propelled by its performances and dialogue.

December 21, 2007 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Harvey's direction is intelligent enough, though the reduction of power struggles to fits of personal pique -- where the fate of nations hangs in the balance -- becomes a little irritating. Enjoyable for its two lead performances, however.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

...outdoorsy and fun, full of the kind of plotting and action people used to go to just plain movies for.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

While the script and the performances are simply dazzling, it is notable, too, for the screen debuts of Timothy Dalton and a combustible Anthony Hopkins.

July 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

O'Toole holds his own with the magnificent Hepburn in a witty, literate, and inventive script.

July 14, 2014 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

A must-see.

July 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Film4

It's stagey and mannered, but it still feels sleek and modern.

July 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Intelligently produced historical drama.

April 14, 2012 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Peter O'TOole and Katharine Hepburn are superb as the bickering, yet loving Henry II and his meddling wife Eleanor of Aquitaine.

August 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

A trashy, gossipy, anachronistic marital drama, about the royal squabbles of Henry II and exiled wife, is well-acted by Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn, who won a third Oscar for her wicked scheming; watch for Anthony Hopkins in his screen debut

June 22, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

A must-see for perhaps the most scathing verbal pyrotechnics ever committed to film.

September 26, 2004

You'll either love or reject the idea of history as sitcom; either way, the lead performances are hard to deny.

August 16, 2003
Nick's Flick Picks

Boring and overrated. Good acting.

February 23, 2003
Juicy Cerebellum

Theatrical and talky, but it's good talk by great performers.

December 29, 2002
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The cast is truly in top form. Hepburn and O'Toole play off of each other beautifully.

February 13, 2001 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for The Lion in Winter

wonderful war of words among masters.
February 16, 2014
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

King Henry II invites his estranged wife and three children to celebrate Christmas with his mistress, and the three sons vie for the throne.
Only slightly better than the remake, this classic film, for which Katharine Hepburn won the Best Actress Oscar, is more fast-paced and sharply executed. Writer James Goldman's sharp wit, including such lines as "Quiet, darling, Mummy's fighting" and "If I was on fire, no one would pee on me to put me out" "Let's strike a flint and see," becomes clearer when put in the hands of such technically savvy actors are Hepburn, Peter O'Toole, and Anthony Hopkins.
But as with the remake, I struggled to understand what the backbone of this film is beyond family melodrama. There were a few moments when, looking at Hepburn's world-weary, tear-stained face, I thought that it was bemoaning the ravages of age, and indeed, this is the best that I can come up with, but I can't understand how this theme interacts with the political plot.
Overall, like the Stewart/Close version, Lion in Winter is fun to watch, and even though I hate Hepburn normally, I found her performance compelling here.
January 16, 2012
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Riveting. Dialogue of razor-sharp wit, layers of motives and intimate revalations, and captivating performances. Can't find a modern movie with dialogue this smart.
September 10, 2011
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

The old king (O'Toole) must choose an heir thus beginning this chess game of plots and counter- plots between the family members involved. Included are his sons, among them Richard (Hopkins) and his mother (Hepburn). Riveting though talky this is the kind of costumer most aspire to be. O'Toole and Hepburn are forces of nature.
September 2, 2011

Super Reviewer

Movies Like The Lion in Winter

    1. Eleanor Of Aquitaine: I rode bare-breasted all the way to Damascus. Louis was livid and I damn near died of windburn, but the troops were dazzled.
    – Submitted by John S (14 months ago)
    1. Eleanor Of Aquitaine: I'd hang you from the nipples, but you'd shock the children.
    – Submitted by John S (14 months ago)
    1. Eleanor Of Aquitaine: In a world were carpenters get resurrected, anything is possible.
    – Submitted by Oscar L (2 years ago)
    1. Eleanor Of Aquitaine: Of course he has a knife, he always has a knife, we all have knives! It's 1183 and we're barbarians! How clear we make it. Oh, my piglets, we are the origins of war: not history's forces, nor the times, nor justice, nor the lack of it, nor causes, nor religions, nor ideas, nor kinds of government, nor any other thing. We are the killers. We breed wars. We carry it like syphilis inside. Dead bodies rot in field and stream because the living ones are rotten. For the love of God, can't we love one another just a little - that's how peace begins. We have so much to love each other for. We have such possibilities, my children. We could change the world.
    – Submitted by Thomas A (2 years ago)
    1. Prince John: You stink. You're a stinker and you stink.
    – Submitted by Thomas A (2 years ago)
View all quotes (5)

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