Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)

Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)

Directed by Charles Jarrott based on a Maxwell Anderson (All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)) play and adapted by Bridget Boland John Hale and Richard Sokolove (who jointly earned their only Oscar nominations for their Screenplay) this above average historical drama features Genevieve Bujold in the title role of King Henry (Richard Burton) the VIII’s second wife the former Miss Boleyn. Leads Bujold (whose passionate performance is what makes this film tick) & Burton plus Supporting Actor Anthony Quayle as Cardinal Wolsey earned Oscar nominations for their performances. Margaret Furse won her and the film’s only Oscar (out of her six nominations) for Costume Design. The film was also nominated for Best Picture Art Direction-Set Decoration Cinematography Sound and Original Score.

Using the tried and true story of Henry the Eighth the King that would do anything to insure he had a male heir this film’s focus is on his love affair with Anne Boleyn her initial disdain for him given his dalliance with her older less attractive sister and her manipulation of him when his lust for her outpaces his reason. Not content to be his mistress she causes his divorce with Queen Katherine (Irene Papas) his first wife devilishly proposed by Thomas Cromwell vividly played by John Colicos. Cromwell convinces a willing Henry that the Pope in Rome should have no say in the matter. This puts Cardinal Wolsey in the most uncomfortable of positions (e.g. having to say no to the King’s wishes by holding fast to the Pope’s “party line”). So the King establishes the Church of England and grants his own divorce! Thomas More’s refusal to accept this statute was the basis for the Academy Award winning Best Picture A Man for All Seasons (1966) three years earlier but that fact is largely downplayed here given the focus. However once Queen Anne is unable to produce a son (only a daughter Elizabeth who would eventually become Queen – see Young Bess (1953)) and the King’s eyes wander to another lady of the court Jane Seymour (Lesley Paterson) the cycle repeats (as it would through several more wives). The crafty Cromwell devises and executes a plot to declare and then prove that Anne is an adulterous traitor so that she can be beheaded enabling Henry to have what he wants. The rest of the film’s title refers to Anne’s less than three year tenure as Queen.

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