Norman is a curmudgeon with an estranged relationship with his daughter Chelsea. At Golden Pond, he and his wife nevertheless agree to care for Billy, the son of Chelsea's new boyfriend, and a most unexpected relationship blooms.
It's Christmas 1183, and King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) is planning to announce his successor to the throne. The jockeying for the crown, though, is complex. Henry has three sons and wants his boy Prince John (Nigel Terry) to take over. Henry's wife, Queen Eleanor (Katharine Hepburn), has other ideas. She believes their son Prince Richard (Sir Anthony Hopkins) should be King. As the family and various schemers gather for the holiday, each tries to make the indecisive King choose his or her option.Written by
Sir Anthony Hopkins' debut in a full-length theatrical movie (he made his debut in the forty minute long Red, White and Zero (1967)). When young Hopkins expressed anxiety about his performance compared to such established names as Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn, Hepburn allegedly advised him, "Don't act. Leave that to me; I act all over the place. You don't need to act. You've got a good face, you've got a good voice, you've got a big body. Watch Spencer Tracy, watch the real American actors that never act, they just do it. Just show up and speak the lines." Hopkins later regarded this as the best acting advice he had ever been given. See more »
After John goes out of the room, Eleanor stands up and talks to Geoffrey gesticulating with her right hand about her neck. Next shot her right hand is lower, about her belly. See more »
What were those Academy fools thinking?! They ignore a powerhouse performance by Peter O'Toole and trounce Anthony Harvey's inspiring direction! But the final indignity was in giving the best picture award to an over-praised, undeserving, insignificant musical called OLIVER! If they had a least half a brain in their heads they could've given to FUNNY GIRL but they only shoot themselves in the foot when the deserving go unrecognized. It only goes to show the Academy's just jealous. The script and Kate's performance at least were given the royal treatment but it still leaves bitter resentment when Cliff Roberston, one of Hollywood's most less-than-adequate actors cops the best actor away from O'Toole... possibly Hollywood's most underrated, not to mention unrecognized actors of the highest caliber. Hepburn's Eleanor of Aquitaine had witty lines, quiet but still present anger and fire underneath the surface but O'Toole as Henry II gave the more powerful performance... an aesthetic that echoed Taylor and Burton for WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? only Taylor was the gutsy performer and Burton doled out the cut-lows and the intellect. To coin a phrase from the British... "he (O'Toole) was bloody robbed!"
The story is set in Britain, 1183. Henry II is on the throne and has ten years earlier imprisoned his wife Eleanor of Acquitaine after co-conspirating a civil war against him. She and their three sons (Richard, the eldest, a brave warrior on the battlefield, whom Eleanor wants to succeed Henry as king; Geoffrey, the quietly vicious, unappreciated middle son of whom neither of them love with a plot for every occurrence and John, the piggish, dirty, thieving brat is their youngest whom Henry for some unknown reason wants on the throne) are all requested to appear at their palace of Chinon for the Christmas holidays. Also invited is young King Philip II of France whose elder sister Alais is the treasured and much-loved mistress to Henry. Philip wishes to have Alais mearried off to one of Henry's sons (preferably Richard) in order to form an alliance between England and France made between Henry and Philip's father, the late King Louis. But meanwhile, Philip is also plotting with all three boys and Eleanor to tear Henry's kingdom apart. Eleanor is merely in on it to get back at Henry for loving Alais (whom she had raised as a surrogate daughter) and the late Rosmund, an old rival of Eleanor's whom Henry replaced her with.
This film has it all: infidelity, betrayal, family dysfunction and a script that crackles with venom, wit and plot-twisting motivation. See it if only for O'Toole and Hepburn's first-rate performances.
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