A romantic comedy about a half-mad king who had his wives beheaded and divorced about as often as he changed his underwear? Sounds strange? Well, it is, but The Private Life of Henry VIII is also a splendidly amusing and well-made film.
Henry VIII has gone down in history for several reasons, but in popular history he is perhaps best known for his six wives. They, and their relationships with the king, form the story of this film. Well, in fact the story is about five wives, and barely that, for the first one is entirely skipped over and the film begins as the second one is about to be executed.
Even so, one would think that an hour and a half would be too little time to tell the stories of five romances with any kind of depth, but an effective script teamed with Alexander Korda’s excellent directing and a brilliant Charles Laughton in the title role produced a film that neither feels rushed nor overstuffed.
One would perhaps also be tempted to think it would be hard to create an endearing portrait of someone who had two of his own wives put to death, but this film succeeds even at that.
This film is best enjoyed for the excellent acting and directing. As is often the case with “historical” films, several liberties and short cuts have been taken with facts of history.
The Private Life of Henry VIII
Running time: 1 h 30 min
Director: Alexander Korda
Stars: Charles Laughton
Image quality: Good
Resolution: Medium (640×480)
Sound quality: Acceptable
Best file format: Cinepack (863 M)