Monday Movie: A Man for All Seasons, by David Bax
Every Monday, we’ll recommend a movie–it could be a classic, an overlooked recent treasure, an unfairly maligned personal favorite or whatever the hell we feel like–and we’ll tell you where to find it online.
A Man for All Seasons, the Academy’s pick for best picture of 1966, was adapted by Robert Bolt from his own stage play and, in a lot of ways, it shows. I don’t mean that in the usual way, where a former plays becomes a movie set largely in a single room. On the contrary, Bolt, director Fred Zinnemann (From Here to Eternity) and cinematographer Ted Moore (most of the early James Bond movies) expand the world beautifully across the medieval English countryside. No, I mean A Man for All Seasons feels like a play in that it’s chock full of characters stopping, standing and delivering stirring monologues. Such theatricality could be tedious in less capable hands but, with this cast, the result is the best possible version of an actor’s showcase. Paul Scofield (who also won an Oscar) reprises the role of Thomas More from the stage and is surrounded by folks such as Orson Welles as Cardinal Wolsey, Leo McKern with a much different take on Thomas Cromwell than Mark Rylance gave us in the more recent Wolf Hall, Robert Shaw as perhaps the definitive Henry VIII in all of cinema history, a young John Hurt and even an uncredited Vanessa Redgrave. If all plays-turned-movies were this much fun to watch, the subgenre would have a better reputation.
A Man for All Seasons is available on Filmstruck.