The Info List - The Private Life Of Henry VIII

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The Private Life of Henry VIII
The Private Life of Henry VIII
is a 1933 British film, directed and co-produced by Alexander Korda
Alexander Korda
and starring Charles Laughton, Robert Donat, Merle Oberon
Merle Oberon
and Elsa Lanchester. The film focuses on the marriages of King Henry VIII of England. It was written by Lajos Bíró and Arthur Wimperis
Arthur Wimperis
for London Film Productions, Korda's production company. The film was a major international success, establishing Korda as a leading filmmaker and Laughton as a box office star.


1 Plot 2 Cast 3 Production 4 Reception

4.1 Box office 4.2 Awards

5 Legacy 6 Bibliography 7 See also 8 References 9 External links


King Henry VIII (Charles Laughton) and Anne of Cleves
Anne of Cleves
(Elsa Lanchester) on their wedding night in The Private Life of Henry VIII

The film begins 20 years into King Henry's reign. In May 1536, in the immediate aftermath of the execution of his second wife, Anne Boleyn (Merle Oberon), King Henry VIII (Charles Laughton) marries Jane Seymour (Wendy Barrie), who dies in childbirth eighteen months later. He then weds a German princess, Anne of Cleves
Anne of Cleves
(played by Laughton's real-life wife Elsa Lanchester). This marriage ends in divorce when Anne deliberately makes herself unattractive so she can be free to marry her sweetheart. (In an imaginative and high-spirited scene, Anne "wins her freedom" from Henry in a game of cards on their wedding night.) After this divorce, Henry marries the beautiful and ambitious Lady Katherine Howard (Binnie Barnes). She has rejected love all her life in favour of ambition, but after her marriage, she finally falls in love with Henry's handsome courtier Thomas Culpeper (Robert Donat) who has attempted to woo her in the past. Their liaison is discovered by Henry's court and the two are executed. The weak and aging Henry consoles himself with a final marriage to Catherine Parr
Catherine Parr
(Everley Gregg) who proves domineering. In the final scene, while Parr is no longer in the room, the king breaks the fourth wall, saying "Six wives, and the best of them's the worst." Cast[edit]

Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton
as Henry VIII Merle Oberon
Merle Oberon
as Anne Boleyn Wendy Barrie
Wendy Barrie
as Jane Seymour Elsa Lanchester
Elsa Lanchester
as Anne of Cleves Binnie Barnes as Catherine Howard Everley Gregg as Catherine Parr Robert Donat
Robert Donat
as Thomas Culpeper Franklin Dyall as Thomas Cromwell Miles Mander
Miles Mander
as Wriothesley Laurence Hanray
Laurence Hanray
as Archbishop Thomas Cranmer William Austin as The Duke of Cleves John Loder as Thomas Peynell Lady Tree as The King's Nurse John Turnbull as Hans Holbein Frederick Culley as Duke of Norfolk William Heughan as Kingston Judy Kelly as Lady Rochford Hay Petrie
Hay Petrie
as The King's Barber Wally Patch
Wally Patch
as Butcher Arthur Howard as Kitchen Helper Annie Esmond as Cook's Wife Claude Allister as Cornell Eileen O'Mahony as Jane Seymour's First Lady-in-Waiting Gibb McLaughlin
Gibb McLaughlin
as The French Executioner Sam Livesey as The English Executioner

Production[edit] Alexander Korda
Alexander Korda
was looking for a film project suitable for Charles Laughton and his wife, Elsa Lanchester. Several stories of the film's genesis exist: the resemblance between a statue of Henry VIII and Laughton, a cabby singing the music hall song "I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am", and a discussion on a set of one of his previous films. Originally, the story was to focus solely on the marriage of King Henry VIII and his fourth wife Anne of Cleves, but as the project grew, the story was re-modified to focus on five of Henry's six wives. Only the first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was omitted because those involved had no particular interest, describing her as a "respectable lady" in the film's first intertitles. Reception[edit] Box office[edit] The film was a commercial success. It made Alexander Korda
Alexander Korda
a premier figure in the film industry at the time; United Artists
United Artists
signed Korda for 16 films. It also advanced the careers of Charles Laughton, Robert Donat, and Merle Oberon. It was also Oberon's first major film role. Laughton would later reprise the same role in 1953 in the film Young Bess, opposite Jean Simmons
Jean Simmons
as his daughter, Elizabeth. It was the 12th most successful film at the US box office in 1933.[2] The film premiered to record-breaking crowds at New York's Radio City Music Hall and London's Leicester Square Theatre (now the Odeon West End), running for nine weeks at the latter venue from 27 October 1933.[3] It earned rentals of £500,000 on its first release. The film was one of United Artists' most popular films of the year.[4] Awards[edit] This film was the first non- Hollywood film
Hollywood film
to win an Academy Award, as Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton
won the 1933 Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Actor for his performance. The film was the first British production to be nominated for the Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Picture. Laughton was voted Best Actor in a British film by readers of Film Weekly.[5] Legacy[edit] The Private Life of Henry VIII
The Private Life of Henry VIII
is credited with creating the popular image of Henry VIII as a fat, lecherous glutton, constantly eating turkey legs and tossing the bones over his shoulder (although in the film, Henry actually eats an entire chicken).[6][7][8][9][10] Historian Alison Weir
Alison Weir
has pointed out that this image is contradicted by primary sources, noting "As a rule, Henry did not dine in the great halls of his palaces, and his table manners were highly refined, as was the code of etiquette followed at his court. He was in fact a most fastidious man, and – for his time – unusually obsessed with hygiene. As for his pursuit of the ladies, there is plenty of evidence, but most of it fragmentary, for Henry was also far more discreet and prudish than we have been led to believe. These are just superficial examples of how the truth about historical figures can become distorted."[11] Bibliography[edit]

Law, Jonathan (1997). Cassell Companion to Cinema. London: Market House Books Limited. ISBN 0-304-34938-0.  Magill, Frank (1980). Magill's Survey of Cinema. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Salem Press, Inc. ISBN 0-89356-225-4.  Korda, Michael (1980). Charmed Lives: The Fabulous World of the Korda Brothers. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-1318-5. 

See also[edit]

Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn
in popular culture


^ a b "British Film Losses". The Barrier Miner. Broken Hill, New South Wales: National Library of Australia. 8 February 1936. p. 3. Retrieved 4 August 2012.  ^ "Box Office Successes of 1933". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 13 April 1934. p. 3. Retrieved 9 July 2012.  ^ Popular Filmgoing in 1930s Britain: A Choice of Pleasures, Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2000, pp. 77–78 ^ By, D. W. (1934, Nov 25). TAKING A LOOK AT THE RECORD. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/101193306?accountid=13902 ^ "Best Film Performance Last Year". The Examiner. Launceston, Tasmania: National Library of Australia. 9 July 1937. p. 8. Retrieved 4 March 2013.  ^ "Painting of Henry VIII Holding a Turkey Leg – Debunking Mandela Effects". www.debunkingmandelaeffects.com.  ^ "The Private Life of Henry VIII". 30 August 2010.  ^ "Body in Medical Culture, The". SUNY Press – via Google Books.  ^ Richards, Jeffrey (10 February 1984). "The Age of the Dream Palace: Cinema and Society in 1930s Britain". I.B. Tauris – via Google Books.  ^ " The Private Life of Henry VIII
The Private Life of Henry VIII
- History Today". www.historytoday.com.  ^ Weir, Alison (18 April 2011). "Henry VIII: King and Court". Random House – via Google Books. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Private Life of Henry VIII.

The Private Life of Henry VIII
The Private Life of Henry VIII
on IMDb The Private Life of Henry VIII
The Private Life of Henry VIII
at the British Film Institute's Screenonline The Private Life of Henry VIII
The Private Life of Henry VIII
at AllMovie The Private Life of Henry VIII
The Private Life of Henry VIII
at the TCM Movie Database The Private Life of Henry VIII
The Private Life of Henry VIII
review at Old Movies

v t e

The films of Alexander Korda

As director


Watchhouse in the Carpathians (1914) The Duped Journalist (1914) Tutyu and Totyo (1914) Lea Lyon (1915) The Officer's Swordknot (1915) White Nights (1916) The Grandmother (1916) Tales of the Typewriter (1916) The Man with Two Hearts (1916) The One Million Pound Note (1916) Cyclamen (1916) Struggling Hearts (1916) The Laughing Saskia (1916) Miska the Magnate (1916) St. Peter's Umbrella (1917) The Stork Caliph (1917) Magic (1917) Harrison and Barrison (1917) Faun (1918) The Man with the Golden Touch
The Man with the Golden Touch
(1918) Mary Ann (1918) Ave Caesar! (1919) White Rose (1919) Yamata (1919) Neither at Home or Abroad (1919) Number 111 (1919)


The Prince and the Pauper (1920) Masters of the Sea (1922) A Vanished World (1922) Samson and Delilah (1922) The Unknown Tomorrow (1923) Everybody's Woman (1924) Tragedy in the House of Habsburg (1924) Dancing Mad
Dancing Mad
(1925) Madame Wants No Children
Madame Wants No Children
(1926) A Modern Dubarry
A Modern Dubarry
(1927) The Stolen Bride (1927) The Private Life of Helen of Troy
The Private Life of Helen of Troy
(1927) Yellow Lily
Yellow Lily
(1928) Night Watch (1928) Love and the Devil
Love and the Devil
(1929) The Squall
The Squall
(1929) Her Private Life
Her Private Life


Lilies of the Field (1930) Women Everywhere
Women Everywhere
(1930) The Princess and the Plumber
The Princess and the Plumber
(1930) The Men Around Lucy (1931) Rive gauche (1931) Marius (1931) Längtan till havet (1931) The Golden Anchor (1932) Service for Ladies
Service for Ladies
(1932) Wedding Rehearsal (1932) The Private Life of Henry VIII
The Private Life of Henry VIII
(1933) La dame de chez Maxim's (1933) The Girl from Maxim's
The Girl from Maxim's
(1933) The Private Life of Don Juan (1934) Rembrandt (1936)


That Hamilton Woman
That Hamilton Woman
(1941) Perfect Strangers (1945) An Ideal Husband (1947)

As producer only


Women Who Play
Women Who Play
(1932) Men of Tomorrow
Men of Tomorrow
(1932) That Night in London (1932) Strange Evidence (1933) Counsel's Opinion (1933) Cash (1933) Catherine the Great (1934) The Private Life of the Gannets (1934) (short) The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) Things Are Looking Up (1935) Sanders of the River
Sanders of the River
(1935) Wharves and Strays (1935) (short) The Ghost Goes West
The Ghost Goes West
(1935) Miss Bracegirdle Does Her Duty (1936) (short) The Fox Hunt (1936) Things to Come
Things to Come
(1936) I Stand Condemned (1936) Men Are Not Gods
Men Are Not Gods
(1936) Forget Me Not (1936) The Man Who Could Work Miracles
The Man Who Could Work Miracles
(1936) Fire Over England
Fire Over England
(1937) I, Claudius (1937) (unfinished) Dark Journey (1937) Elephant Boy (1937) Farewell Again (1937) Storm in a Teacup (1937) Action for Slander
Action for Slander
(1937) Knight Without Armour
Knight Without Armour
(1937) The Squeaker (1937) Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel
Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel
(1937) Paradise for Two (1937) The Divorce of Lady X
The Divorce of Lady X
(1938) The Drum (1938) South Riding (1938) The Challenge (1938) Prison Without Bars
Prison Without Bars
(1938) Q Planes
Q Planes
(1939) The Four Feathers (1939) The Rebel Son (1939) The Spy in Black
The Spy in Black
(1939) The Lion Has Wings
The Lion Has Wings
(1939) Over the Moon (1939)


21 Days
21 Days
(1940) Conquest of the Air (1940) The Thief of Bagdad (1940) Old Bill and Son
Old Bill and Son
(1941) Lydia (1941) To Be or Not to Be (1942) Jungle Book (1942) The Biter Bit (1943) (short) The Shop at Sly Corner (1947) A Man about the House (1947) Mine Own Executioner
Mine Own Executioner
(1947) Night Beat (1948) Anna Karenina (1948) The Winslow Boy (1948) The Fallen Idol (1948) Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948) That Dangerous Age
That Dangerous Age
(1949) The Last Days of Dolwyn
The Last Days of Dolwyn
(1949) Saints and Sinners (1949) The Third Man
The Third Man


The Cure for Love (1950) The Happiest Days of Your Life
The Happiest Days of Your Life
(1950) The Angel with the Trumpet (1950) The Bridge of Time (1950) (short documentary) My Daughter Joy (1950) State Secret (1950) The Wooden Horse
The Wooden Horse
(1950) Seven Days to Noon
Seven Days to Noon
(1950) Lady Godiva Rides Again
Lady Godiva Rides Again
(1951) The Wonder Kid (1951) Mr. Denning Drives North
Mr. Denning Drives North
(1952) Outcast of the Islands
Outcast of the Islands
(1952) Home at Seven (1952) Who Goes There! (1952) Cry. the Beloved Country (1952) Edinburgh (1952) (short documentary) Road to Canterbury (1952) (short documentary) The Sound Barrier
The Sound Barrier
(1952) The Holly and the Ivy (1952) The Ringer (1953) Folly to Be Wise
Folly to Be Wise
(1953) Twice Upon a Time (1953) The Captain's Paradise
The Captain's Paradise
(1953) The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan
The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan
(1953) The Man Between
The Man Between
(1953) The Heart of the Matter (1954) Hobson's Choice (1954) The Belles of St Trinian's
The Belles of St Trinian's
(1954) The Teckman Mystery (1954) The Man Who Loved Redheads
The Man Who Loved Redheads
(1955) Three Cases of Murder
Three Cases of Murder
(1955) A Kid for Two Farthings (1955) The Deep Blue Sea (1955) Summertime (1955) Storm Over the Nile
Storm Over the Nile
(1955) Richard III (1955) Smiley (1956)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 316752218 GND: 4741555-1 BNF: