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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Lion In Winter (1968)



Reviews and Comments

This splendid drama of plots and schemes is crisp, with consistently sharp, quotable dialogue of a kind rarely seen anymore. There's a lot of it, too. A movie like this would normally be flawed for how talky it is, but talk this vibrant and venemous is delicious.

The story concerns the waning reign of King Henry II, his wife Eleanor, and his three sons. There is no love lost between any of them. Henry wants one of his sons to succede him, Eleanor favors another, and all three want the throne for themselves. Also in the mix is the new French king and Henry's young mistress, who would presumably marry the eventual heir.

Much of The Lion In Winter is a con game, everybody playing everybody else, but the stakes are higher than the fate of the most powerful kingdom on Earth: there are ancient and grievous pains buried here, and we discover that much of the scheming and fast talking of the characters is directed toward avoiding that pain as achieving other ends.

The acting is fantastic across the board. Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn play the King and Queen (Hepburn won an Oscar for her part). Look, too, for early career-launching performances by Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton.

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