Peter O'Toole has so many great lines in this movie. "I am surrounded by fools. Beckett is the only intelligent man in my kingdom and he is against me." Richard Burton too with "I am afraid we most only do absurdly what it has been given to us to do right to the end." Really amazed. A movie I will watch again several times.
An enjoyable costume drama that suffers from some minor issues. O'Toole is fantastic as always and Burton puts in a fine performance as well. I also thought the music and pacing were good. The rest of the cast I didn't find to compelling and I wasn't too keen on the cinematography overall (although there are some great shots here and there).
Peter O'Toole chews the scenery like a rabid dog (that's not a bad thing) and Richard Burton is of course Richard Burton (that's a very very good thing). Thomas a Becket: England is a ship. The king is captain of the ship. King Henry II: That's neat. I like that.
I'm really a sucker for these stories of thrones and blood and privy chamber intrigue. We get some ham-handed dialogue and some serious histrionics, but it's worth watching and often funny. Plus, as far as 60s epics go, it's way more homoerotic than Lion in Winter or Man for All Seasons. From their dynamic, my suspicion is that Henry was the one used to getting stabbed (by Becket's throbbing, holier-than-thou sword.)
Over three or four viewings in the last decade I've gone from finding this mediocre to ridiculous but fun to near-brilliant. Burton's performance is lame and soporific and all the prating on about honor is, well, dumb, but O'Toole is the real protagonist of this story and he is *so* *damned* *entertaining*. Fun to compare this to his wiser, colder Henry II in Lion in Winter. The design elements are all wonderful.