Becket - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Becket Reviews

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½ September 26, 2016
Please forgive me, but history was never my strong suit. It seems if I was more of a student of history I might have known what to expect in Becket. Instead, I viewed it as a wholly concocted script and kind of judged it based on how effective that script was for me (not taking into account any of the actual events from history books.) Becket is probably one of the most forgettable films I've watched in a long time. The one thing that will stick with me are the performances of Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole. They certainly make it a film worth watching. Sadly, I didn't feel the story rivaled the acting. It seems that the plot is set up to tell us about 2 close friends and how politics & religion can drive a wedge between them. However, it never really seemed that Becket had any true affection for His King. Instead, I felt like he was the typical servant who feigned loyalty but spent most of his time reluctantly cleaning up the master's messes. I figured this was an ideal setup for a truly powerful fight between the two when they were placed at odds with one another, but instead it was a sudden devotion to God that drove Becket, and his actions became soft almost like he actually cared about Henry. That's not to say that this isn't an interesting or effective way to tell the story, just not the story I was hoping to get. By the end I was losing interest in the characters and their quarrels, and since they spoiled the death of Becket at the beginning there was no real suspense to anything. Now, only days after watching the film, I struggle to remember most of the scenes. I do like both actors and they certainly committed to these roles, but I just wanted a more engaging story with characters that would grab me, and I don't feel like I got that here.
April 8, 2016
Excellent historical drama focusing on the complex relationship between fiery English king Henry II (a fabulous Peter O'Toole) and archbishop Thomas Becket (Richard Burton). Entertaining and pacy, with two acting heavyweights in their prime, Peter Grenville's dramatisation of Jean Anouilh's stage play is a splendid screen adaptation and a history lesson well worth catching.
December 22, 2015
An authentic presentation of the Becket controversy, led by memorable performances by O'Toole and Burton.

V: 75%
October 13, 2015
saw it in theater when it came out. Great subject and movie.
½ September 15, 2015
Peter O'Toole gives the performance of his career in Becket going head to head with fellow famous Oscar virgin Richard Burton who also is quite great in this movie. Amazing screenplay, costumes, art direction, and direction.
August 1, 2015
With extraordinary performances from Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton, Becket is a compelling historical piece, detailing the relationship between King Henry II and Thomas Becket, even if it can get a bit tedious from its running time
July 28, 2015
Wow what performances from the two leads! O'toole again performs larger than life and is great fit for this role. I can definitely relate to the hurt of a great friendship ending and o'toole performed this well. The movie script was very biting and there were some great lines; however I wasn't familiar with all the religious vocab so that was annoying and it was very fast dialogue too-sheesh. That being said I loved the drama and how he found a cause worthy of honor in the end. I'm glad he found his own strength finally thru God. Some parts were a little dated like the split screen of one character against the backdrop of the other. Interesting historical film, long but doesn't seem so...check it out!
May 28, 2015
An intriguing story of church vs. state, some terrific acting, and a runtime that is unjustifiably too long.
½ May 26, 2015
Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole together is like PB&J, they just go great together and in "Becket" the two of them give commanding performances from a time where acting was much more of an art.
½ February 7, 2015
well acted but a bit long
February 6, 2015
Based upon the 1959 play of the same name by French playwright Jean Anouilh, which was optioned by producer Hal B. Wallis (True Grit (1969)), and directed by Peter Glenville (Hotel Paradiso (1966) and The Comedians (1967)), this is a power character drama which put two of the most enigmatic actors of the time together on screen. It makes for a riveting period piece that is beautifully put together. Set between 1160 and 1170, it focuses on the friendship between Saxon protégé Thomas Becket (Richard Burton) and King Henry II (Peter O'Toole). When Henry makes Becket his Lord Chancellor, it becomes a decision he soon comes to regret, and after falling out with Theodore of Bec, the Archbishop of Canterbury (Felix Aylmer), Henry appoints Becket as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, but after Becket excommunicates Lord Gilbert (Donald Wolfit) over the murder of a priest for misdemeanors. Henry completely loses it, and Becket escapes to France, where he goes to French King Louis VII (John Gielgud), where they discuss what Becket's next move should be. It's a well made film, maybe a little overlong for it's own good, but it benefits from lush cinematography by Geoffrey Unsworth, but it's worth it for the battle of wills at the heart of the film played out by Burton and O'Toole, who play off each other brilliantly. O'Toole reprised King Henry II for The Lion in Winter (1968).
½ January 2, 2015
Didn't like it at all
December 5, 2014
Intriguing study of two kinds of bromances--the one between Henry and Becket, and the one between the church and the state. That said, it's aged considerably.
November 25, 2014
***Due to the recent RT changes that have basically ruined my past reviews, I am mostly only giving a rating rather than a full review.***
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
August 27, 2014
"Bend it Like Becket"! I stretch, but Beckett Media is a sporty publication, although this film is much older than David Beckham himself, so the pun still falls ferociously flat. On top of all that, this is a religiously-charged historical epic based on a French play, so it's anything but sporty. Well, at least it's less cheesy than "My Fair Lady", and while that isn't to say that "My Fair Lady" isn't good, it is to say that this film shows why the Golden Globes has a Best Musical category, because you'd think that the Oscars would be all over this. In 1963, the Golden Globes, not simply nominated, but awarded "The Cardinal" Best Picture-I mean, Best Drama, and in 1964, this film took home that same sort of bacon that the Catholics are actually allowed to enjoy, so for a while there, the Jews who undoubtedly make up much of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association were getting into Catholicism. One does have to give these two films credit for figuring out how to make subject matters dealing with Catholic archbishops interesting enough to be the basis for epics which, well, are still of varying intrigue. Hey, "The Cardinal" was compelling, and this film is pretty good, too, although it stands to be tighter, and more original, for that matter.

As a '60s period melodrama set in olde England, this film could have been either unique or formulaic, and it ultimately falls somewhere in between, having some refreshing elements, in addition enough derivative aspects to be rather predictable, anchored by familiar character types who actually stand to be more recognizable. Immediate background development is a little lacking, making the unlikable traits of the leads fairly glaring, and although gradual exposition is plentiful, the performances are more nuanced than the characterization whose degree of depth is inconsistent, but generally somewhat thin, as a supplement to the melodrama more than the humanity. Melodramatics are certainly unavoidable in this adaptation of a stage interpretation of 12th century English affairs of political, religious an human natures, and storytelling is generally sound enough for you to buy into the histrionics, but their familiarity makes it easier to feel their contrivances, which aren't even extreme enough to really flare up the intrigue. This olde English romanticism is no longer relevant and is plenty dry, and it would be embraced more if it wasn't overplayed in the form of minimalist dialogue, with plenty of dramatic weight, but little action behind it to reinforce a sense of consequence, and keep momentum going. As things stand, there's something kind of flat about the direction in certain places, for although there is enough inspiration to the storytelling and acting within this intimate drama to keep entertainment value adequate through sound intrigue, when kick falls, you really can't help but feel the length of this talkative and wandering affair which runs two-and-a-half hours. The film is a little too long to not have much go on, and with considerable competence, it engages through and through, though one's investment just has to be challenged by moments of familiarity, expository shortcomings, melodramatics, and pacing issues which threaten the final product's reward value. This reward value is ultimately near-firmly secured, because as much as the film tries your patience, it engrosses more often than not, at least aesthetically.

Actually, the aesthetic value of this film isn't especially outstanding, but it is solid enough to play some respectable role in reinforcing engagement value, with Laurence Rosenthal turning in a conventional, but grand score, while Geoffrey Unsworth's cinematography carries enough sweep to its lensing to make up for some shortage of flare to relatively briskly defined lighting and coloration. Unsworth's grand eye at least gives you a well-rounded feel for Maurce Carter's art direction, whose orchestration of John Bryan's production designs and Margaret Furse's costume designs sells the time both lavishly and realistically, and therefore playing an instrumental part in immersing you into this melodrama which thrives on its intimacy. Sure, the intimacy of this drama minimalizes the scope of this pseudo-epic, making it hard to deny the excessiveness of the two-and-a-half-hour-long runtime, just as conventional occasions and moderate underdevelopment make the histrionics harder to deny, and yet, this study on how great men of a romantic time interpreted politics, religion, peasants, each other and, most of all, themselves is thematically rich, with high intellectual and dramatic potential to be done justice. Peter Glenville's direction has flat spots to really slow down momentum, but where it could have been drier and duller, its thoughtfulness falls over enough consistent dramatic material to carry a subtlety and grace that draw upon the intellectual value of this melodrama, broken up by resonant moments of delicate tension which secure the engagement value of the directorial storytelling. I suppose Glenville's direction doesn't hit quite as many missteps as Edward Anhalt's writing, although this script may do a greater justice to Jean Anouilh's classic story than the directorial storytelling, rich with glowing dialogue to sustain entertainment value through all of the overt chit-chat, while characterization manages to be just meaty enough for nuanced performances to compensate for expository shortcomings. Indeed, if nothing else makes this character melodrama so compelling, it is the across-the-board strong performances in a gifted cast, from which the leads stand out, with Richard Burton being unevenly used, yet consistently engrossing in his subtle, convincing portrayal of a man of sophistication and faith who respects and challenges the questionable aspects of a loving king, while Peter O'Toole steals the show in his dynamic, intense portrayal of a man of great power and corruption who is initially charismatic in his sleaze, but grows to be a wreck when his humanity is stressed to him through betrayal and a fear of his own mortality. These two leads and their electric chemistry are the heart and soul of this intimate epic of little dynamicity, but considerable intrigue, driven by inspiration on and off of the screen which make the final product a rewarding trial for one's patience.

In conclusion, there are occasions of conventions and some unevenness to the depth of characterization, while melodramatics keep too consistent to be ignored in the draggy telling of an intimate story of limited urgency, but through grand score work and cinematography, immersive art direction, sophisticated direction and writing, and effective performances, - the most powerful of which being by the solid Richard Burton and the outstanding Peter O'Toole - Peter Glenville's "Becket" rewards as an intimate portrait on the conflicts between men of religion and humanity and men of royalty and corruption.

3/5 - Good
½ July 19, 2014
Always wanted to see this, and was not disappointed. Brilliant performances by both Burton and O'Toole. It's an oldie but it's a goodie.
February 22, 2014
The film's great acting brings excitement to many of the film's bland moments; other than that its strongly supported by its screenplay and an interesting plot.
January 5, 2014
A tremendously full and witty historical costume drama. And it manages to be so without falling into complete melodrama (although sometimes it gets close, though not in a bad way: melodrama has its place, and in the hands of great actors like Burton and O'Toole, melodramatic scenes further the plot in convenient ways.) Those who would cynically complain about its overly grandiose caricatures, theatrical sets and pompous dialogue fail to understand the aesthetic and literary point of epic costume drama. It is not a documentary. It's a dramatic biopic that manages, though bravado acting and plump dialogue, to explain in 2+ hours an astonishingly complicated story. And it manages to hit the mark. You could spend 100 hours studying the personalities and the political, religious and historical intrigue of the "Becket" controversy, and still come nowhere near as clear and generally accurate understanding as this film provides.

And Burton and O'Toole, at the top of their game, is great fun to watch!
½ December 28, 2013
In Peter Glenville's "Becket," Peter O'Toole plays a young King Henry II and Richard Burton is Thomas Becket, a Saxon who is highly intelligent and a very dear friend of Henry. Eventually Becket is made Archbishop of Canterbury by Henry himself, so Henry can have control of his kingdom and the church, however a rift in their relationship arises because Becket puts God ahead of his King. Without trying to spoil too much, I don't think the director adequately shows us what really made Becket turn to God, we know that he has but not precisely why; what I'm trying to say is I think Richard Burton's character isn't as dense is it seems to be, Burton does his best to fulfill his duty as an actor. Peter O'Toole as the spoiled, outrageous, love-sick King Henry completely overshadows him in character and performance. O'Toole has the privilege of showing countless emotions while Burton is handcuffed in reserve. The story is quite simple even if it involves royalty, it's basically about a man who loved a man, who loved God. I prefer the younger Henry of "Becket" over the older one of "The Lion in Winter."
December 19, 2013
There is a certain undeniable homoerotic charge in the portrait of manly emotions exhibited in Becket that kind of fulfils a certain fixation in period pieces that were being made at the time. Despite the epic grandeur of the film, from its sets to its extras, this film feels more like a deep and honest personal drama - if a little overtly melodramatic and a tad bit exaggerated. Becket is also a wonderful showcase for the two great actors Burton and O'Toole who work magnificently together and whose performances are very powerful and full of noble and genuine sentiments.
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