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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Peter O'Toole, Richard Burton. O'Toole and Burton are simply mesmerizing in their performances as a pair of rogues in power over England. Sir John Gielgud also stars in this riveting piece of cinema history. 1964/color/2 hrs., 30 min/NR/widescreen.

The primary bonus feature is a treat: a feature-length commentary by Peter O'Toole, accompanied by a moderator. With only occasional gaps of silence, the still sharp and well-spoken O'Toole recalls the making of the film, how he didn't research the historical King Henry ("The author has made the character; that's his job. My job is to play it."), and his memories of Richard Burton, both personal ("We found that we both enjoyed rugby, we both enjoyed songs, and we both enjoyed drinking, and got along very well.") and professional ("he had an astonishing presence on the stage"). There are also two archival interviews with Burton from 1967 and 1977 (26 minutes total), in which he doesn't discuss Becket, but he does say a lot about his life on stage, he recites some lines, and speaks candidly about his drinking problem.

Don't skip over the interviews with the film's editor Anne Coates and composer Laurence Rosenthal. Coates (7 minutes) has some good stories, and Rosenthal (12 minutes) discusses the influences on his Oscar-nominated score and how he had to teach Gregorian chant to Burton ("He was one of these people whom you really can't teach anything. He had this characteristic that you can only remind him of something he already knows. But he didn't know how to sing Gregorian chant."). In addition to a photo gallery and the four-and-a-half-minute theatrical trailer, MPI's long-delayed DVD looks better than many major-studio classics. --David Horiuchi

Beyond Becket

Other Peter O'Toole Films

Other Richard Burton Films

More King Henrys on DVD

Stills from Becket (click for larger image)

Special Features

  • Theatrical trailer
  • Still gallery
  • Interviews with editor Anne V. Coats and composer Laurence Rosenthal
  • Archival interviews with Richard Burton
  • TV spot

Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole, John Gielgud, Gino Cervi, Paolo Stoppa
  • Directors: Peter Glenville
  • Writers: Edward Anhalt, Jean Anouilh, Lucienne Hill
  • Producers: Peter O'Toole, Hal B. Wallis, Joseph H. Hazen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Closed-captioned, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: MPI Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 15, 2007
  • Run Time: 148 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (311 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007G1WH
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,456 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Becket" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

266 of 276 people found the following review helpful By Mike Powers on June 8, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
"Becket." Now THERE is a marvelous movie... probably one of the finest "biopics" ever written!! It tells the story of the relationship between two men: King Henry II of England, great-grandson to William the Conqueror, and Thomas Becket, a Saxon nobleman, a close friend of King Henry's, and, ultimately, Archbishop of Canterbury.

As our story unfolds, Henry and Becket are inseparable friends. They spend their days feasting at banquets, carousing, wenching, and hunting. Henry (played by Peter O'Toole) appoints Becket (Richard Burton) to the post of Chancellor of England - the equivalent of Prime Minister and Treasurer. Becket is a man completely loyal to the King, and a man with a curious sense of honor. "Honor is a private matter within," he tells Henry early in the film. "It's an idea, and every man has his own version of it."

"Becket" is ultimately a story of "the honor of God" versus "I am your king." In an effort to gain the upper hand in the ongoing controversy between the Church and state, Henry names Becket to the post of Archbishop of Canterbury. In Thomas Becket, the King sees a loyal servant who will place the wishes of his monarch before everything else. Unfortunately, the King's hopes for an easy time of it are soon dashed. After becoming the primate of England, Becket rediscovers his personal sense of honor. To Becket, "the honor of God" becomes worthy of defending against all who would attack the Church... even if the attacker is the King. When one of Henry's noblemen kills a priest, Becket orders him haled before an ecclesiastical court. The inevitable showdown between King and Archbishop is at hand.
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149 of 155 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Ellis on October 14, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
This 1964 film deals with the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, after his old drinking buddy, King Henry II, famously asked, "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest!?" Its been a matter of great debate whether Henry actually meant to order the murder of his old friend and, to me at least, this film almost makes the case that Henry's words were just the impulsive, possibly drunken words of a rather immature man thrust, by heredity, into a position of power he was not yet ready for.
One might think that the political murder of a priest in a pre-Reniassance England would make for a rather dry, humorless film. Luckily, Becket proves them wrong. Though director Peter Glenville was not a flashy stylist and occasionally does allow the film to become a bit stagey, he was also a wonderful director of actors and manages to get wonderful lead performances from a young Peter O'Toole (as Henry) and even from the normally diffident Richard Burton (as Becket). When the film begins, it feels very much like a comedy. When we first meet Becket and Henry, they are two young, spoiled friends who spend most of their time drinking and wenching. Though, as expected, O'Toole is hilarious as the fun-loving monarch, even Burton manages a few slyly sardonic line readings. Years later, in an interview with David Letterman, O'Toole would admit that both the lead actors were drunk during the majority of the shooting and basically just having a grand old time of it. Their sense of fun in these early scenes is easily translatable to the audience and its hard not to like these two immoral rogues and, perhaps, to even secretly want to find a time machine and go hang out with them.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By SUPPORT THE ASPCA. on August 3, 2007
Format: DVD
This is a true historical epic, it has everything the viewer could want. Superb acting, suspense, sexcapades, court intrigue,, fine cinematography, a dysfunctional family, pageantry, betrayal, & murder. King Henry the second{Peter O'Toole}, the Norman grandson of William the conqueror is locked in a "church & state battle with his longtime Saxon friend Thomas Becket{Richard Burton}." The turmoil begins after Henry appoints Thomas against his will to the newly vacant position of Archbishop of Canterbury. Soon, a priest is arrested by lord Gilbert for dishonoring a young girl. Becket protests that the church should judge the priest, rather than the state. Meanwhile, the priest is killed trying to escape. Becket excommunicates lord Gilbert, & the battle is set. The egos are absorbed into the church & state quagmire.

I won't reveal anymore of the story, buy it & you will enjoy this period piece. The soul of this tale is the bond of two friends torn apart by their own manipulations & circumstances beyond their control. For me it is a sin against logic that neither Peter O'Toole & Richard Burton ever won the acadamy award. For their performances in this classic alone, the academy should be ashamed!
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66 of 75 people found the following review helpful By P. L Slice on July 20, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
"Becket" has been restored (thankfully) and is sked for DVD issue 01/05/2005. This is great!!! The Film Foundation has been in the process of restoring and re-issuing projects. Rec'd confirmation from them that the DVD is, in fact, coming out.
They also attached this information "The Film Foundation provides substantial annual support for preservation and restoration projects at its member archives * the Academy Film Archive, George Eastman House, Library of Congress, Museum of Modern Art, UCLA Film & Television Archive * and affiliated organizations * the National Center for Film and Video Preservation at the AFI and the National Film Preservation Foundation. These institutions have mounted ambitious programs of preservation and restoration and serve as a vital link for public access to our nation's film treasures. The Film Foundation's efforts have resulted in saving over 300 endangered films, including Hollywood features, silent films, independent, documentary and experimental films, as well as newsreels and other historical films whose titles may not be widely known but whose importance to our film heritage is no less significant."
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


Topic From this Discussion
Roadshow version?
Good question Joe. Adding to it is whether or not there was and will be a restored Overture and Exit Music along with the Entr'Acte. I've never seen Laurence Rosenthal's soundtrack as a CD release (even as an import or bootleg) so it is hard to say. Guess we'll know after May 15.
Another Joe.
Mar 15, 2007 by Joseph M. Malham |  See all 4 posts
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