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Private Life of Henry VIII [VHS] (1933)

Charles Laughton , Robert Donat , Alexander Korda  |  NR |  VHS Tape
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Charles Laughton, Robert Donat, Merle Oberon
  • Directors: Alexander Korda
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Timeless Multimedia
  • VHS Release Date: November 1, 1994
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303241190
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #628,587 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A charming, clever British comedy January 27, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Charles Laughton is typically wonderful in his broadly-played role as England's King, Henry the Eigth, who infamously married six different queens, divorcing or executing them as circumstances warranted. The script to this magnificent Alexander Korda production is a witty jab at English history buffs, touching only briefly on the supposed treachery of Ann Boleyn, concentrating instead on the preposterous emotional life of the lusty, capacious King. Laughton, as ever, is a marvel, skillfully presenting Henry at first as a thinly-cariacatured lout, and gracefully embuing him with gradual shades of pathos and humanity. Viewers who look to this film as historical drama are clearly missing the point: this is all about the cleverly-rendered script, which turns British schoolboy lessons on their heads, and on the classy ensemble acting, which admittedly may be hard to focus on with the lamentable quality of the current print (I'm writing in the year 2003; perhaps Criterion or some other class-act movie restoration company can correct this problem soon). Still, fans of early British cinema will enjoy this film a lot.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Laughton is great, the movie is quite abbreviated. July 30, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I thought Charles Laughton was superb as Henry VIII and to this day, I cannot think of anyone portraying the 16th century tyrant king other than him. However, they abbreviated the story of his first two wives, and these were the most interesting of his six marriages. We didn't even get to see the story of his first wife, Katharine of Aragon, just a notation on the screen that she was a "good woman" and that was it. His second wife, and perhaps his most interesting marriage, was totally abbreviated. Afterall, his second marriage to Anne Boleyn produced the great Queen Elizabeth I and it sprung the English Reformation. I was also disappointed because it was Merle Oberon's screen debut portraying Anne Boleyn, and she was on for about five minutes. What a waste to show such an incredibally beautiful woman for so short a time!! See the movie, "Anne of the Thousand Days" [Amazon has it], for that fascinating second marriage and the end of his first. They spent the most time on his least fascinating fourth marriage to Anne of Cleves who Henry was married to the shortest (less than a year). They did cast Elsa Lancaster (Laughton's real life wife and the famous "Bride of Frankenstein") and she provided a fine comic performance, but no one cares about Anne of Cleves!!! In history, it was an arranged marriage, she reportedly "stunk" and Henry was so repulsed by her that he couldn't consumate the marriage. Therefore, they had a "happy" divorce and she lived happily ever after as a rich divorcee. If anything, watch this movie to see Laughton's great performance, he is the quintessential Henry VIII. I always picture Laughton gorging himself on a huge poultry leg while shouting at his court and servants when I think of Henry VIII. If you enjoyed Laughton's performance as Henry VIII, he reprises it in the 1950's movie "Young Bess" which can also be purchased here.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Charles Laughton Still Wonderful As Henry VIII April 4, 2006
Format:DVD-R|Verified Purchase
There was no actor quite like Charles Laughton and playing the title role of Henry VIII in this historical film truly made him an international star. Although the film may seem stagy and slow- going by today's standards, it still holds up fairly well. Certainly Laughton's academy award winning performance is still a joy to see. The story tells the story of British King Henry VIII and his six wives; well, actually five wives since the film begins with Ann Bolynn (Merle Oberon) his second, and even then we don't see much of her because she is about to lose her head because of adultery. We learn from the title cards which follow the opening credits that Henry's first wife wasn't at all that interesting and we need not concern ourselves with her, so it skips over her. It becomes clear later that another reason for poor Ann's demise was the fact that she failed to give the King a son, which he desperately wanted as an heir to the throne. Although it takes awhile, the King finally does get a son but we know from history that he will die young and his daughter by Ann will grow up to be Elizabeth I, but all of this is outside of the film's framework. Still, what story we do get is mostly entertaining and those that complain that the film is not historically true seem to be missing the point. It's really more of a comedy than anything else and therefore, doesn't concern itself too much with historical truth. Just witness the wonderful scene, for example, where Henry is attempting to explain to his new German wife (played by Laughton's real wife Elsa Lanchester) where babies come from!

The film is being released on DVD by a company called Allied Artists and although they claim the movie has been remastered, it certainly doesn't look it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charles Laughton Is It! March 6, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This extravegant tale of England's oft-married king and his reign is portrayed breathtakingly on screen by Mr. Charles Laughton. This story highlights Henry the Eigths' uneven relations towards his spouses and his above-average lifestyle. I don't agree with the viewer rating this a two-star movie. It is informative, realistic, candid, and marvelous. Hooray for C.L. and his won at the 1933 Academy Awards for Best Actor!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars but Laughton plays a good Henry VIII
The film is old but the one I remember most. It may seem to be incomplete in reference to the actual history, but Laughton plays a good Henry VIII. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Lark2011
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wish They Knew HOW to Really Makem' Like they use to
Published 2 months ago by Bonnie D. Hussar
5.0 out of 5 stars Life of Henry VIII
I love this film for its acting excellence and not especially for the content. This king's life was not in depth. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Raven
4.0 out of 5 stars Henry and His Wives
Alexander Korda's 1933 biopic The Private Life of Henry VIII has the distinction of being the first British film nominated for Best Picture. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Bryan A. Pfleeger
4.0 out of 5 stars The Latter Wives of Henry VIII
On a "lovely day" in May in 1536, King Henry the Eighth's second wife, Anne Boleyn, prepares - as nobly as she can - for her beheading. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Magnifying Glass
5.0 out of 5 stars Hysterical!
Produced in the '30's this is hysterical. The court ladies are very New York a la the original The Women. Charles Laughton's Henry VIII is a riot and seems historically accurate. Read more
Published 16 months ago by MizL
4.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious!
Charles Laughton is at his best here, even better than in "Ruggles of Red Gap." This is the funniest comedy of the 30s in my opinion, besting even Capra's "It happened One Night"... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Kristopher J. Kondrad
4.0 out of 5 stars An Entertaining History
The Private Life of Henry VIII, 1932 film

His first wife was Catherine of Aragon (Caterina Fidele). Next came Anne Boleyn (a thousand days). Read more
Published 21 months ago by Acute Observer
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor picture quality
I am an avid collector of classic movies, and the quality on this DVD is very poor. Not like I rememered
Published 21 months ago by Phyllis Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars Still one of the best films dealing with an English monarch
Despite its age, this is remains a terrifically clever and entertaining picture, chronicling the marital woes of the most notorious of all English monarchs. Read more
Published on June 2, 2012 by Dolwyddelan
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