The Lion in Winter


2h 14m 1968
The Lion in Winter

Brief Synopsis

England's Henry II and his estranged queen battle over the choice of an heir.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Historical
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
New York opening: 30 Oct 1968
Production Company
Haworth Productions
Distribution Company
Avco Embassy Pictures Corp.
Country
United Kingdom
Location
Wales, United Kingdom; England, United Kingdom; Ireland; Tarascon, France
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Lion in Winter by James Goldman (New York, 3 Mar 1966).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 14m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints), Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

In 1183, King Henry II of England summons his estranged wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, whom he has imprisoned for 10 years in Salisbury Tower for her part in civil wars and plots against him. Henry has called a Christmas Court at Chinon Castle to determine which of their three surviving sons--the impetuous Richard, the conniving Geoffrey, or the clumsy and insecure John--will be named successor to the crown. Also present are Henry's mistress, Princess Alais, who has been promised as wife to the new heir, and her 18-year-old brother, Philip, the king of France. Henry chooses John as successor, but Eleanor, fully aware that Henry holds all three sons in low esteem, proclaims that the throne rightfully belongs to Richard. Almost immediately, the protagonists plot to attain their own selfish ends: Eleanor offers to yield Aquitaine if Richard is named heir; Geoffrey, neglected by both parents, conspires with John and Philip to rob Richard of the throne; and Henry confesses to Alais that he intends to get his way without giving her up. It is decided that an alliance with the king of France might solve all their problems, and Eleanor sends Richard to convince Philip of the merit of their cause. The youthful king is equal to the machinations of his elders, however; confronting Henry, he exposes the homosexual bent of Richard, the treachery of Geoffrey, and the disloyalty of John. Outraged, Henry disowns his sons and demands from Eleanor an annulment of their marriage, declaring that he will marry Alais and father a new heir, but Alais insists that Henry execute his sons to protect any child she might bear. Intent on murder, Henry descends into the dungeon where his sons are imprisoned, but Eleanor has preceded him and armed the three princes to aid their escape. Although Henry raises his sword over Richard's head, he cannot bring himself to wield it. Once the others have left and Eleanor and Henry are alone, the two adversaries face the incontestable truth that the bond between them is too strong to be broken by any struggle for power. The next morning, with nothing resolved, Henry escorts Eleanor to the barge that will return her to prison; she leaves, hopeful that there will soon be a summons to appear at Chinon for an Easter Court.

Photo Collections

The Lion in Winter - Movie Posters
Here are a few variations of the one-sheet movie poster for The Lion in Winter (1968), starring Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Hosted Intro

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Historical
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
New York opening: 30 Oct 1968
Production Company
Haworth Productions
Distribution Company
Avco Embassy Pictures Corp.
Country
United Kingdom
Location
Wales, United Kingdom; England, United Kingdom; Ireland; Tarascon, France
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Lion in Winter by James Goldman (New York, 3 Mar 1966).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 14m
Sound
70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints), Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Award Wins

Best Actress

1968
Katharine Hepburn

Best Score

1968

Best Writing, Screenplay

1969

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1968
Peter O'Toole

Best Costume Design

1968
Margaret Furse

Best Director

1968
Anthony Harvey

Best Picture

1968

Articles

The Essentials - The Lion in Winter


Synopsis

Christmas 1183: King Henry II of England allows his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, to join the royal court for the holidays, springing her from the castle in which he has imprisoned her for years for plotting against him. Discussing every aspect of their love-hate relationship, they argue the question of which of their three sons will succeed Henry, a decision that will affect both England and France. They lie, scheme, threaten, use their grown and constantly squabbling children as political and personal pawns, and trade witty, to-the-bone barbs like a medieval version of Edward Albee's George and Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Director: Anthony Harvey
Producer: Martin Poll
Screenplay: James Goldman, based on his play
Cinematography: Douglas Slocombe
Editing: John Bloom
Art Direction: Peter Murton, Gilbert Margerie
Original Music: John Barry
Cast: Peter O'Toole (King Henry II), Katharine Hepburn (Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine), Anthony Hopkins (Prince Richard), Nigel Terry (Prince John), John Castle (Prince Geoffrey), Timothy Dalton (King Philip of France), Jane Merrow (Princess Alais).
C-135m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

Why The Lion in Winter is Essential

Period pictures featuring real historical characters have often enjoyed great popularity among audiences, especially when they involve the grand schemes and conflicts of England's royal families. This was especially true in the 1960s, when British films experienced something of a revival, hitting big with audiences by trotting out the triumphs and flaws of the country's ruling class: A Man for All Seasons (1966), Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), Camelot (1967), Becket (1964). So The Lion in Winter was destined to succeed. Not only did it have the necessary historical intrigue but it carried the extra bonus of featuring two stars at the top of their form and some brilliant newcomers, all trading barbs and insults in James Goldman's witty and entertaining script. The movie not only delivered the requisite period detail and intrigue but wrapped it in the kind of sparkling, bitchy dialogue rarely seen on screen since All About Eve (1950).

Director Anthony Harvey and his artistic crew avoided the pitfall of over-glamorizing the period, preferring instead to set the story in a more appropriate 12th century reality: cold, sparse, and dirty castles in which royalty share living space with peasants and animals, and not a lavish banquet or rousing tournament in sight. Within this apparently authentic setting, the filmmakers present an often humorous, fast-paced drama of family conflict, no less powerful for coming from the mouths of some of Western history's prime movers and shakers.

For all its great reputation today, The Lion in Winter received mixed reviews on its initial release. Some critics felt the dialogue, full of contemporary quips and sly historical in-jokes, was anachronistic and not "true" to its subject and time period. But this modern feel was just what audiences responded to. And it didn't hurt to have Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn in the leads. Because of their performances -considered by many to be among the top of each of their careers -the film continues to enjoy a great popularity in revival screenings, television airings and video rentals.

by Rob Nixon
The Essentials - The Lion In Winter

The Essentials - The Lion in Winter

Synopsis Christmas 1183: King Henry II of England allows his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, to join the royal court for the holidays, springing her from the castle in which he has imprisoned her for years for plotting against him. Discussing every aspect of their love-hate relationship, they argue the question of which of their three sons will succeed Henry, a decision that will affect both England and France. They lie, scheme, threaten, use their grown and constantly squabbling children as political and personal pawns, and trade witty, to-the-bone barbs like a medieval version of Edward Albee's George and Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Director: Anthony Harvey Producer: Martin Poll Screenplay: James Goldman, based on his play Cinematography: Douglas Slocombe Editing: John Bloom Art Direction: Peter Murton, Gilbert Margerie Original Music: John Barry Cast: Peter O'Toole (King Henry II), Katharine Hepburn (Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine), Anthony Hopkins (Prince Richard), Nigel Terry (Prince John), John Castle (Prince Geoffrey), Timothy Dalton (King Philip of France), Jane Merrow (Princess Alais). C-135m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. Why The Lion in Winter is Essential Period pictures featuring real historical characters have often enjoyed great popularity among audiences, especially when they involve the grand schemes and conflicts of England's royal families. This was especially true in the 1960s, when British films experienced something of a revival, hitting big with audiences by trotting out the triumphs and flaws of the country's ruling class: A Man for All Seasons (1966), Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), Camelot (1967), Becket (1964). So The Lion in Winter was destined to succeed. Not only did it have the necessary historical intrigue but it carried the extra bonus of featuring two stars at the top of their form and some brilliant newcomers, all trading barbs and insults in James Goldman's witty and entertaining script. The movie not only delivered the requisite period detail and intrigue but wrapped it in the kind of sparkling, bitchy dialogue rarely seen on screen since All About Eve (1950). Director Anthony Harvey and his artistic crew avoided the pitfall of over-glamorizing the period, preferring instead to set the story in a more appropriate 12th century reality: cold, sparse, and dirty castles in which royalty share living space with peasants and animals, and not a lavish banquet or rousing tournament in sight. Within this apparently authentic setting, the filmmakers present an often humorous, fast-paced drama of family conflict, no less powerful for coming from the mouths of some of Western history's prime movers and shakers. For all its great reputation today, The Lion in Winter received mixed reviews on its initial release. Some critics felt the dialogue, full of contemporary quips and sly historical in-jokes, was anachronistic and not "true" to its subject and time period. But this modern feel was just what audiences responded to. And it didn't hurt to have Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn in the leads. Because of their performances -considered by many to be among the top of each of their careers -the film continues to enjoy a great popularity in revival screenings, television airings and video rentals. by Rob Nixon

Pop Culture 101 - The Lion in Winter


Pop Culture 101 - THE LION IN WINTER

The movie was based on James Goldman's play, which starred Robert Preston, Rosemary Harris and Christopher Walken when it opened on Broadway in March 1966. The play was a flop at the time, but has since become a popular staple for theaters ranging from Broadway to small-town community troupes. A recent New York revival starred Laurence Fishburne and Stockard Channing.

The story was remade for television in 2003 with Patrick Stewart as Henry and Glenn Close as Eleanor.

This was the second time O'Toole played Henry II on screen. His earlier performance of the role was in Becket (1964). Between 1923 and 2003, the king has been a character in six other films.

In addition to Hepburn and Close, Eleanor of Aquitaine has been portrayed on screen by Martita Hunt in The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952), Pamela Brown in Becket (1964) and Jane Lapotaire in the British TV series The Devil's Crown (1978), opposite Brian Cox as Henry.

King Richard the Lionhearted (played here as a prince by Anthony Hopkins) has appeared in dozens of movies and has been played on screen by Wallace Beery, Sean Connery, Richard Harris, George Sanders, Patrick Stewart and Peter Ustinov, among many others. His brother John (played here by Nigel Terry), who also later became king, has also figured in a number of movies, particularly stories about Robin Hood. He has been played by Ian Holm, Claude Rains, Richard Lewis and others.

Director Anthony Harvey handled another historical royal subject in The Abdication (1974), with Liv Ullmann as Sweden's Queen Kristina, a role made famous by Greta Garbo in 1933.

Writer James Goldman later wrote screenplays about other real-life royalty: the last czar of Russia in Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) and Nicholas' daughter in Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986), a made-for-TV movie. He also returned to the Middle Ages for Robin and Marian (1976), with Sean Connery as Robin Hood and Audrey Hepburn as Maid Marian, late in their lives. Goldman also adapted his own play again for the 2003 TV version of The Lion in Winter.

Nigel Terry, who played the future King John in this film, did not make another picture for 13 years until he played another legendary English king, Arthur, in John Boorman's Excalibur (1981). He also played King Louis of France in The Hunchback (1997), a TV movie version of Victor Hugo's novel Notre Dame de Paris.

by Rob Nixon

Pop Culture 101 - The Lion in Winter

Pop Culture 101 - THE LION IN WINTER The movie was based on James Goldman's play, which starred Robert Preston, Rosemary Harris and Christopher Walken when it opened on Broadway in March 1966. The play was a flop at the time, but has since become a popular staple for theaters ranging from Broadway to small-town community troupes. A recent New York revival starred Laurence Fishburne and Stockard Channing. The story was remade for television in 2003 with Patrick Stewart as Henry and Glenn Close as Eleanor. This was the second time O'Toole played Henry II on screen. His earlier performance of the role was in Becket (1964). Between 1923 and 2003, the king has been a character in six other films. In addition to Hepburn and Close, Eleanor of Aquitaine has been portrayed on screen by Martita Hunt in The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952), Pamela Brown in Becket (1964) and Jane Lapotaire in the British TV series The Devil's Crown (1978), opposite Brian Cox as Henry. King Richard the Lionhearted (played here as a prince by Anthony Hopkins) has appeared in dozens of movies and has been played on screen by Wallace Beery, Sean Connery, Richard Harris, George Sanders, Patrick Stewart and Peter Ustinov, among many others. His brother John (played here by Nigel Terry), who also later became king, has also figured in a number of movies, particularly stories about Robin Hood. He has been played by Ian Holm, Claude Rains, Richard Lewis and others. Director Anthony Harvey handled another historical royal subject in The Abdication (1974), with Liv Ullmann as Sweden's Queen Kristina, a role made famous by Greta Garbo in 1933. Writer James Goldman later wrote screenplays about other real-life royalty: the last czar of Russia in Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) and Nicholas' daughter in Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986), a made-for-TV movie. He also returned to the Middle Ages for Robin and Marian (1976), with Sean Connery as Robin Hood and Audrey Hepburn as Maid Marian, late in their lives. Goldman also adapted his own play again for the 2003 TV version of The Lion in Winter. Nigel Terry, who played the future King John in this film, did not make another picture for 13 years until he played another legendary English king, Arthur, in John Boorman's Excalibur (1981). He also played King Louis of France in The Hunchback (1997), a TV movie version of Victor Hugo's novel Notre Dame de Paris. by Rob Nixon

Trivia - The Lion in Winter - Trivia: THE LION IN WINTER


THE LION IN WINTER - Trivia and Other Fun Stuff

The movie was not marketed like most general release films; it opened on a reserved-seat basis with audiences paying top dollar for tickets, as if it were a prestigious live theater production.

Hepburn had a longstanding policy of never appearing at the Academy Awards presentation, even when she was nominated, and a great reluctance (at that time) to appear on television. But for the award show to be telecast in Spring 1968, she taped a segment from London dressed in her Eleanor of Aquitaine costume. She spoke about the first ten years of the Oscars¿ in one of four segments covering the four-decade history of the awards.

Years before this picture and after seeing O'Toole perform on stage, Hepburn urged producer Sam Spiegel to cast the relative unknown in the lead in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), although Spiegel wanted Albert Finney.

Peter O'Toole named his daughter Kate, after Hepburn.

Harvey directed his good friend Katharine Hepburn twice more: Grace Quigley (1984) and the TV movie This Can't Be Love (1994). He directed O'Toole again in the TV movie Svengali (1983). Jane Merrow (Princess Alais) appeared in his TV movie The Patricia Neal Story (1981) and John Castle (Geoffrey) was in his Eagle's Wing (1979).

Anthony Harvey started his film career as an actor at the age of 14, appearing with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh in Caesar and Cleopatra (1945). He later became an editor and cut the Stanley Kubrick pictures Lolita (1962) and Dr. Strangelove (1964).

Award-winning cinematographer Douglas Slocombe started in motion pictures in Great Britain in 1940 and lensed most of the famous Ealing Studios comedies of the 1950s. He went on to photograph Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and the Indiana Jones series.

This was the feature film debut for both Nigel Terry and Timothy Dalton. It has often been credited as Anthony Hopkins' film debut, but he actually appeared first in Lindsay Anderson's The White Bus (1967).

Screenwriter James Goldman was the brother of William Goldman, Academy Award-winning author of the screenplays for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and All the President's Men (1976).

John Barry has composed music for more than 100 films and TV shows, including a dozen James Bond movies. In addition to his award for The Lion in Winter, he has won Oscars¿ for his scores for Born Free (1966), Out of Africa (1985) and Dances with Wolves (1990).

Hepburn claimed she was descended from Eleanor, tracing her lineage back to children from the queen's marriages to both Henry and the king of France.

Although some elements of history were changed for dramatic purposes and the dialogue was obviously contemporized, the story of The Lion in Winter was mostly faithful to historical fact, and some of the speeches make reference to true incidents in the lives of the real-life characters depicted here. For instance, Eleanor did lead troops in the Crusades dressed as an Amazon; she was rumored to have had an affair with Henry's father before marrying the future English king after her annulment from the King of France, and she really was imprisoned for 15 years for leading a rebellion against her husband. She did outlive him, however, and because of her beauty, sophistication, political keenness and power (unusual for a woman in her day), she has become regarded as one of the most important and influential women in history.

As for the battling sons of the story, Eleanor got her way (and a restoration to power) when Richard succeeded Henry after his death. When Richard was captured and held hostage on his way back to England from the Crusades, his brother John reigned in his place (a central fact in the Robin Hood legend). Eleanor used her considerable pull to have Richard released. After Richard's death, John ascended the throne but was so unpopular a ruler he was forced in 1215 to sign the Magna Carta, a series of concessions granted to his rebellious barons that established for the first time a very significant constitutional principle, namely that the power of the king could be limited by a written grant.

Famous Quotes from THE LION IN WINTER

ELEANOR (Katharine Hepburn): In a world where carpenters get resurrected, everything is possible.

HENRY (Peter O'Toole): Now see here, boy!
PHILIP (Timothy Dalton): I am a king. I am no man's "boy"!
HENRY: A king? Because you put your ass on purple cushions?

JOHN (Nigel Terry): Poor John. Who says poor John? Don't everybody sob at once! My God, if I went up in flames there's not a living soul who'd pee on me to put the fire out!
RICHARD (Anthony Hopkins): Let's strike a flint and see.

ELEANOR: I made Louis take me on Crusade. I dressed my maids as Amazons and rode bare-breasted halfway to Damascus. Louis had a seizure and I damn near died of windburn. But the troops were dazzled.

HENRY: Oh God, but I do love being king!

ELEANOR: Henry's bed is Henry's province, he may people it with sheep if he wishes. Which upon occasion he has done.

HENRY: I'm villifying you for God's sake -pay attention!

ELEANOR: I could peel you like a pear and God himself would call it justice!

ELEANOR: What would you have me do? Give out? Give up? Give in?
HENRY: Give me a little peace.
ELEANOR: A little? Why so modest? How about eternal peace? Now there's a thought.

HENRY: The day those stout hearts band together is the day that pigs get wings.
ELEANOR: There'll be pork in the treetops come morning.

JOHN: A knife! He's got a knife!
ELEANOR: Of course he has a knife, he always has a knife, we all have knives! It's 1183 and we're all barbarians!

ELEANOR: Henry?
HENRY: Hmmm?
ELEANOR: I have a confession.
HENRY: Yes?
ELEANOR: I don't much like our children.

ELEANOR: What family doesn't have its ups and downs?

Compiled by Rob Nixon

Trivia - The Lion in Winter - Trivia: THE LION IN WINTER

THE LION IN WINTER - Trivia and Other Fun Stuff The movie was not marketed like most general release films; it opened on a reserved-seat basis with audiences paying top dollar for tickets, as if it were a prestigious live theater production. Hepburn had a longstanding policy of never appearing at the Academy Awards presentation, even when she was nominated, and a great reluctance (at that time) to appear on television. But for the award show to be telecast in Spring 1968, she taped a segment from London dressed in her Eleanor of Aquitaine costume. She spoke about the first ten years of the Oscars¿ in one of four segments covering the four-decade history of the awards. Years before this picture and after seeing O'Toole perform on stage, Hepburn urged producer Sam Spiegel to cast the relative unknown in the lead in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), although Spiegel wanted Albert Finney. Peter O'Toole named his daughter Kate, after Hepburn. Harvey directed his good friend Katharine Hepburn twice more: Grace Quigley (1984) and the TV movie This Can't Be Love (1994). He directed O'Toole again in the TV movie Svengali (1983). Jane Merrow (Princess Alais) appeared in his TV movie The Patricia Neal Story (1981) and John Castle (Geoffrey) was in his Eagle's Wing (1979). Anthony Harvey started his film career as an actor at the age of 14, appearing with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh in Caesar and Cleopatra (1945). He later became an editor and cut the Stanley Kubrick pictures Lolita (1962) and Dr. Strangelove (1964). Award-winning cinematographer Douglas Slocombe started in motion pictures in Great Britain in 1940 and lensed most of the famous Ealing Studios comedies of the 1950s. He went on to photograph Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and the Indiana Jones series. This was the feature film debut for both Nigel Terry and Timothy Dalton. It has often been credited as Anthony Hopkins' film debut, but he actually appeared first in Lindsay Anderson's The White Bus (1967). Screenwriter James Goldman was the brother of William Goldman, Academy Award-winning author of the screenplays for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and All the President's Men (1976). John Barry has composed music for more than 100 films and TV shows, including a dozen James Bond movies. In addition to his award for The Lion in Winter, he has won Oscars¿ for his scores for Born Free (1966), Out of Africa (1985) and Dances with Wolves (1990). Hepburn claimed she was descended from Eleanor, tracing her lineage back to children from the queen's marriages to both Henry and the king of France. Although some elements of history were changed for dramatic purposes and the dialogue was obviously contemporized, the story of The Lion in Winter was mostly faithful to historical fact, and some of the speeches make reference to true incidents in the lives of the real-life characters depicted here. For instance, Eleanor did lead troops in the Crusades dressed as an Amazon; she was rumored to have had an affair with Henry's father before marrying the future English king after her annulment from the King of France, and she really was imprisoned for 15 years for leading a rebellion against her husband. She did outlive him, however, and because of her beauty, sophistication, political keenness and power (unusual for a woman in her day), she has become regarded as one of the most important and influential women in history. As for the battling sons of the story, Eleanor got her way (and a restoration to power) when Richard succeeded Henry after his death. When Richard was captured and held hostage on his way back to England from the Crusades, his brother John reigned in his place (a central fact in the Robin Hood legend). Eleanor used her considerable pull to have Richard released. After Richard's death, John ascended the throne but was so unpopular a ruler he was forced in 1215 to sign the Magna Carta, a series of concessions granted to his rebellious barons that established for the first time a very significant constitutional principle, namely that the power of the king could be limited by a written grant. Famous Quotes from THE LION IN WINTER ELEANOR (Katharine Hepburn): In a world where carpenters get resurrected, everything is possible. HENRY (Peter O'Toole): Now see here, boy! PHILIP (Timothy Dalton): I am a king. I am no man's "boy"! HENRY: A king? Because you put your ass on purple cushions? JOHN (Nigel Terry): Poor John. Who says poor John? Don't everybody sob at once! My God, if I went up in flames there's not a living soul who'd pee on me to put the fire out! RICHARD (Anthony Hopkins): Let's strike a flint and see. ELEANOR: I made Louis take me on Crusade. I dressed my maids as Amazons and rode bare-breasted halfway to Damascus. Louis had a seizure and I damn near died of windburn. But the troops were dazzled. HENRY: Oh God, but I do love being king! ELEANOR: Henry's bed is Henry's province, he may people it with sheep if he wishes. Which upon occasion he has done. HENRY: I'm villifying you for God's sake -pay attention! ELEANOR: I could peel you like a pear and God himself would call it justice! ELEANOR: What would you have me do? Give out? Give up? Give in? HENRY: Give me a little peace. ELEANOR: A little? Why so modest? How about eternal peace? Now there's a thought. HENRY: The day those stout hearts band together is the day that pigs get wings. ELEANOR: There'll be pork in the treetops come morning. JOHN: A knife! He's got a knife! ELEANOR: Of course he has a knife, he always has a knife, we all have knives! It's 1183 and we're all barbarians! ELEANOR: Henry? HENRY: Hmmm? ELEANOR: I have a confession. HENRY: Yes? ELEANOR: I don't much like our children. ELEANOR: What family doesn't have its ups and downs? Compiled by Rob Nixon

The Big Idea - The Lion in Winter


The Big Idea Behind THE LION IN WINTER

James Goldman's stage play about the lives and intrigues of the Plantagenets opened on Broadway in March 1966 with Robert Preston as King Henry II and Rosemary Harris (most recently seen as Aunt May in Spider-Man, 2002) as his estranged wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Although Harris' performance made her a star and brought her a Tony Award, the production received mixed reviews and closed in less than three months at a substantial loss. But with the recent success of A Man for All Seasons (1966), an epic film about historical England adapted from a much more successful play, film producers were looking for similar material that could offer a combination of prestige and box-office performance. Producer Martin Poll thought The Lion in Winter was a natural and approached Peter O'Toole, who had played the same character to much success (and an Academy Award nomination) in Becket (1964).

The film version of The Lion in Winter provided Katharine Hepburn with some much-needed focus and a new lease on her long acting career. After Spencer Tracy's death in 1967, many people believed Hepburn would retire from acting. When she received the screenplay (adapted by first-time screenwriter James Goldman from his own play) and learned Peter O'Toole (who she had championed early in his career) would play Henry, she jumped at the chance to return to work.

"What was fascinating about the play was its modernness," Hepburn said, "This wasn't about pomp and circumstance but about a family, a wife trying to protect her dignity and a mother protecting her children."

Hepburn became more excited about the project after seeing a film made by the director O'Toole was favoring. Anthony Harvey's only other directorial effort, Dutchman (1966), was as far removed from Henry and Eleanor as could be imagined -a harsh, contemporary urban drama of racism based on the play by Amiri Baraka. But Hepburn found the film "absolutely riveting. It grabbed you by the throat. Exactly the approach that our material needed. Not that glossy old MGM stuff, but cold people living in cold castles."

Hepburn was also fascinated by Harvey's background as an editor, a profession she admired greatly. The two hit it off instantly and became great friends for the rest of her life.

Even with Hepburn, O'Toole and Harvey on board, producer Martin Poll still had a hard time getting financial backing and guaranteed distribution. Finally, he arranged a deal with independent producer Joseph Levine.

While negotiations dragged on with potential backers and distributors, Hepburn agreed to make the film version of Jean Giraudoux's play The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969). When the financing finally came through, everyone had to rush into overdrive to get The Lion in Winter ready to shoot in time to release Hepburn for the other picture. She undertook research and read everything she could find on Eleanor of Aquitaine, adding many extra touches to the script. She and her assistant also went to France and toured Fontevrault, where Eleanor, Henry II and their son Richard are buried.

O'Toole took charge of the casting, catching many stage productions and calling friends for suggestions. A number of actors were tested with O'Toole present and often supervising their tests, which terrified many of the young hopefuls. He and Harvey decided against well-known film performers for the roles of the princes and Alais and chose relative unknowns from the British stage.

Anthony Hopkins was appearing at London's National Theatre when he was cast as Richard and needed the permission of Sir Laurence Olivier to leave and appear in the film. Olivier was reluctant but finally agreed Hopkins could shoot the film during the day if he flew back from location for his evening stage performances in As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing. by Rob Nixon

The Big Idea - The Lion in Winter

The Big Idea Behind THE LION IN WINTER James Goldman's stage play about the lives and intrigues of the Plantagenets opened on Broadway in March 1966 with Robert Preston as King Henry II and Rosemary Harris (most recently seen as Aunt May in Spider-Man, 2002) as his estranged wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Although Harris' performance made her a star and brought her a Tony Award, the production received mixed reviews and closed in less than three months at a substantial loss. But with the recent success of A Man for All Seasons (1966), an epic film about historical England adapted from a much more successful play, film producers were looking for similar material that could offer a combination of prestige and box-office performance. Producer Martin Poll thought The Lion in Winter was a natural and approached Peter O'Toole, who had played the same character to much success (and an Academy Award nomination) in Becket (1964). The film version of The Lion in Winter provided Katharine Hepburn with some much-needed focus and a new lease on her long acting career. After Spencer Tracy's death in 1967, many people believed Hepburn would retire from acting. When she received the screenplay (adapted by first-time screenwriter James Goldman from his own play) and learned Peter O'Toole (who she had championed early in his career) would play Henry, she jumped at the chance to return to work. "What was fascinating about the play was its modernness," Hepburn said, "This wasn't about pomp and circumstance but about a family, a wife trying to protect her dignity and a mother protecting her children." Hepburn became more excited about the project after seeing a film made by the director O'Toole was favoring. Anthony Harvey's only other directorial effort, Dutchman (1966), was as far removed from Henry and Eleanor as could be imagined -a harsh, contemporary urban drama of racism based on the play by Amiri Baraka. But Hepburn found the film "absolutely riveting. It grabbed you by the throat. Exactly the approach that our material needed. Not that glossy old MGM stuff, but cold people living in cold castles." Hepburn was also fascinated by Harvey's background as an editor, a profession she admired greatly. The two hit it off instantly and became great friends for the rest of her life. Even with Hepburn, O'Toole and Harvey on board, producer Martin Poll still had a hard time getting financial backing and guaranteed distribution. Finally, he arranged a deal with independent producer Joseph Levine. While negotiations dragged on with potential backers and distributors, Hepburn agreed to make the film version of Jean Giraudoux's play The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969). When the financing finally came through, everyone had to rush into overdrive to get The Lion in Winter ready to shoot in time to release Hepburn for the other picture. She undertook research and read everything she could find on Eleanor of Aquitaine, adding many extra touches to the script. She and her assistant also went to France and toured Fontevrault, where Eleanor, Henry II and their son Richard are buried. O'Toole took charge of the casting, catching many stage productions and calling friends for suggestions. A number of actors were tested with O'Toole present and often supervising their tests, which terrified many of the young hopefuls. He and Harvey decided against well-known film performers for the roles of the princes and Alais and chose relative unknowns from the British stage. Anthony Hopkins was appearing at London's National Theatre when he was cast as Richard and needed the permission of Sir Laurence Olivier to leave and appear in the film. Olivier was reluctant but finally agreed Hopkins could shoot the film during the day if he flew back from location for his evening stage performances in As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing. by Rob Nixon

Behind the Camera - The Lion in Winter


Behind the Camera on THE LION IN WINTER

The company rehearsed for two weeks in London's Haymarket Theatre. Exteriors were shot in Ireland, Wales and France and interiors in Dublin's Ardmore Studios.

On the first day of rehearsal, Hepburn slammed her thumb in a heavy iron door at the theater, crushing the nail and causing a deep cut down the length of her hand. But she refused to go to the hospital and insisted on continuing with rehearsal. She also refused stitches, saying the wound would take too long to heal before shooting began.

Although Hepburn and O'Toole had met years earlier and she was a great admirer of his work, she had no intention of putting up with the rather bad behavior he often exhibited on his productions. "You're known to be late," she told him on the first day of work. "I intend for you to be on time. I hear you stay out at night. You'd better be rested in the morning if you're going to work with me!"

Hepburn also bested O'Toole as the top dog on the set. Known to be something of a tyrant on most of his shoots, O'Toole meekly obliged when she told him "Peter, stop towering over me. Come and sit down and try to look respectable." O'Toole readily admitted in her presence that she reduced him "to a shadow of my former gay-dog self." "She is terrifying. It is sheer masochism working with her. She has been sent by some dark fate to nag and torment me." Her reply: "Don't be so silly. We are going to get on very well. You are Irish and you make me laugh. In any case, I am on to you and you to me."

In spite of her stern warnings, Hepburn enjoyed O'Toole and his work tremendously. She said his vigor and energy helped restore her own vitality at a time when she really needed it.

Hepburn threw herself into the role of the "tough as nails" Eleanor with great relish and interest. "Both she and Henry were probably big-time operators who played for whole countries," she said. "I like big-time operators."

To the company's amazement, Hepburn swam twice a day in the frigid winter sea in Ireland, early in the morning and during her lunch break. When O'Toole asked her why she did it, she explained, "It's the shock -so horrible that it makes you feel great afterwards."

Cinematographer Douglas Slocombe worked out a rich lighting pattern that was meant to give the film the look of illuminated manuscripts from the historical period.

Harvey and Art Director Peter Murton decided to make the setting as true as possible to the times. Therefore, although the principal characters were royalty, they lived in drafty, dirty castles rather than the sanitized, glamorized view of medieval life most movies have taken.

For the greatest authenticity, the actors wore their costumes as long as possible before shooting a scene so that they looked soiled and frayed. Although costume designer Margaret Furse preferred dark clothes, Hepburn talked her into brighter colors for Eleanor, who she reasoned had been to the Middle East and would have owned many vividly colored articles.

Production shut down for a time when Anthony Harvey fell ill with hepatitis and the flu.

by Rob Nixon

Behind the Camera - The Lion in Winter

Behind the Camera on THE LION IN WINTER The company rehearsed for two weeks in London's Haymarket Theatre. Exteriors were shot in Ireland, Wales and France and interiors in Dublin's Ardmore Studios. On the first day of rehearsal, Hepburn slammed her thumb in a heavy iron door at the theater, crushing the nail and causing a deep cut down the length of her hand. But she refused to go to the hospital and insisted on continuing with rehearsal. She also refused stitches, saying the wound would take too long to heal before shooting began. Although Hepburn and O'Toole had met years earlier and she was a great admirer of his work, she had no intention of putting up with the rather bad behavior he often exhibited on his productions. "You're known to be late," she told him on the first day of work. "I intend for you to be on time. I hear you stay out at night. You'd better be rested in the morning if you're going to work with me!" Hepburn also bested O'Toole as the top dog on the set. Known to be something of a tyrant on most of his shoots, O'Toole meekly obliged when she told him "Peter, stop towering over me. Come and sit down and try to look respectable." O'Toole readily admitted in her presence that she reduced him "to a shadow of my former gay-dog self." "She is terrifying. It is sheer masochism working with her. She has been sent by some dark fate to nag and torment me." Her reply: "Don't be so silly. We are going to get on very well. You are Irish and you make me laugh. In any case, I am on to you and you to me." In spite of her stern warnings, Hepburn enjoyed O'Toole and his work tremendously. She said his vigor and energy helped restore her own vitality at a time when she really needed it. Hepburn threw herself into the role of the "tough as nails" Eleanor with great relish and interest. "Both she and Henry were probably big-time operators who played for whole countries," she said. "I like big-time operators." To the company's amazement, Hepburn swam twice a day in the frigid winter sea in Ireland, early in the morning and during her lunch break. When O'Toole asked her why she did it, she explained, "It's the shock -so horrible that it makes you feel great afterwards." Cinematographer Douglas Slocombe worked out a rich lighting pattern that was meant to give the film the look of illuminated manuscripts from the historical period. Harvey and Art Director Peter Murton decided to make the setting as true as possible to the times. Therefore, although the principal characters were royalty, they lived in drafty, dirty castles rather than the sanitized, glamorized view of medieval life most movies have taken. For the greatest authenticity, the actors wore their costumes as long as possible before shooting a scene so that they looked soiled and frayed. Although costume designer Margaret Furse preferred dark clothes, Hepburn talked her into brighter colors for Eleanor, who she reasoned had been to the Middle East and would have owned many vividly colored articles. Production shut down for a time when Anthony Harvey fell ill with hepatitis and the flu. by Rob Nixon

The Lion in Winter


Peter O'Toole returned to one of his most acclaimed roles, England's King Henry II, in 1968 for The Lion in Winter, a film that still stands as one of his greatest triumphs. When he won an Oscar® nomination for his performance, he became the only actor to be nominated twice for playing the same character in two completely different films (Al Pacino has two nominations for playing Michael Corleone in the Godfather films, but the second was for a sequel by the same writers and director). Four years earlier, O'Toole had been similarly honored for his interpretation of Henry II in Becket (1964), an adaptation of Jean Anouilh's play.

As famous as The Lion in Winter has become from its film version and frequent revivals of the play, it was originally a Broadway flop. James Goldman's fanciful treatment of the lives and intrigues of the Plantagenets and the plotting to choose a successor to Henry II opened in March 1966 with Robert Preston as the king and Rosemary Harris (most recently seen as Aunt May in Spider-Man, 2002) as his estranged wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Although Harris' performance made her a star and brought her a Tony Award, the production received mixed reviews and closed in less than three months at a substantial loss. It was hardly the first flop in Broadway history. But unlike other stage failures, it had a life after that initial production.

With the recent success of A Man for All Seasons (1966), an epic film about historical England adapted from a much more successful play, producers were looking for similar material that could offer a combination of prestige and box-office performance. The Lion in Winter seemed made for the movies. Not only did the arrival of Henry and his family members for a Christmas court at Chinon offer opportunities for pageantry on a grand scale, but the film featured several juicy roles and the kind of literate, witty, quite catty dialogue rarely seen since All About Eve (1950) almost 20 years earlier. So Martin Poll, a pioneer in bringing film production to New York City, picked up the rights and secured financing from Joseph E. Levine's Avco-Embassy Pictures, an independent distributor best known for importing foreign classics and low-budget exploitation films (like Hercules (1957) starring Steve Reeves) to the U.S.

O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn were naturals for the leads: O'Toole for his previous success playing the young Henry II in Becket; Hepburn because she was descended from Eleanor, tracing her lineage back to children from the monarch's marriages to both Henry and the king of France. In addition, Hepburn had played a role in boosting O'Toole's career when she urged producer Sam Spiegel to cast him in Lawrence of Arabia (1962). But for all her respect for him as an actor, she was not about to put up with his by-then legendary drunken shenanigans. According to Barbara Leaming's biography of Katharine Hepburn (Crown Publishers, Inc.), when the film company arrived in Ireland for three weeks of rehearsals for the film, the actress laid down the law: "You're known to be late! I intend for you to be on time. I hear you stay out at night. You'd better be rested in the morning if you're going to work with me!"

Hepburn and O'Toole set the pace for the film's younger players, one of the strongest collections of film beginners to appear together. Making their film debuts were Nigel Terry, who would go on to play King Arthur in John Boorman's Excalibur (1981), and future James Bond Timothy Dalton. Richard, Henry and Eleanor's warrior son who turns out to be a closeted homosexual, was the first major film role for Anthony Hopkins, who would go on to win stardom and an Oscar® as the infamous Hannibal Lecter.

Surprisingly, The Lion in Winter opened to mixed reviews. While many critics applauded its re-creation of the middle ages, the witty dialogue and the star's impressive performances, some others thought the picture had reduced major historical events to the level of soap opera. When it won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Picture, four critics quit the group in protest. The picture's success at the box office soon wiped out the memory of any dissension. It would go on to win seven Oscar® nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (Anthony Harvey), Best Actor and Best Actress. On Oscar® night, it captured the awards for its score, screenplay and, in a surprise tie with Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl, Hepburn's performance. Today The Lion in Winter enjoys a continued popularity in revival screenings, television airings and video rentals. The stage version has been performed successfully around the globe, most recently in a Broadway revival starring Laurence Fishburne and Stockard Channing. Plans were recently announced for a new television version, set to air in 2003, starring Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close.

Producer: Martin Poll
Director: Anthony Harvey
Screenplay: James Goldman, based on his Play
Cinematography: Douglas Slocombe
Art Direction: Peter Murton, Peter James
Music: John Barry
Principal Cast: Peter O'Toole (Henry II), Katharine Hepburn (Eleanor of Aquitaine), Jane Merrow (Princess Alais), John Castle (Prince Geoffrey), Timothy Dalton (King Philip), Anthony Hopkins (Prince Richard the Lion-hearted), Nigel Terry (Prince John), Nigel Stock (William Marshall).
C-135m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Frank Miller

The Lion in Winter

Peter O'Toole returned to one of his most acclaimed roles, England's King Henry II, in 1968 for The Lion in Winter, a film that still stands as one of his greatest triumphs. When he won an Oscar® nomination for his performance, he became the only actor to be nominated twice for playing the same character in two completely different films (Al Pacino has two nominations for playing Michael Corleone in the Godfather films, but the second was for a sequel by the same writers and director). Four years earlier, O'Toole had been similarly honored for his interpretation of Henry II in Becket (1964), an adaptation of Jean Anouilh's play. As famous as The Lion in Winter has become from its film version and frequent revivals of the play, it was originally a Broadway flop. James Goldman's fanciful treatment of the lives and intrigues of the Plantagenets and the plotting to choose a successor to Henry II opened in March 1966 with Robert Preston as the king and Rosemary Harris (most recently seen as Aunt May in Spider-Man, 2002) as his estranged wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Although Harris' performance made her a star and brought her a Tony Award, the production received mixed reviews and closed in less than three months at a substantial loss. It was hardly the first flop in Broadway history. But unlike other stage failures, it had a life after that initial production. With the recent success of A Man for All Seasons (1966), an epic film about historical England adapted from a much more successful play, producers were looking for similar material that could offer a combination of prestige and box-office performance. The Lion in Winter seemed made for the movies. Not only did the arrival of Henry and his family members for a Christmas court at Chinon offer opportunities for pageantry on a grand scale, but the film featured several juicy roles and the kind of literate, witty, quite catty dialogue rarely seen since All About Eve (1950) almost 20 years earlier. So Martin Poll, a pioneer in bringing film production to New York City, picked up the rights and secured financing from Joseph E. Levine's Avco-Embassy Pictures, an independent distributor best known for importing foreign classics and low-budget exploitation films (like Hercules (1957) starring Steve Reeves) to the U.S. O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn were naturals for the leads: O'Toole for his previous success playing the young Henry II in Becket; Hepburn because she was descended from Eleanor, tracing her lineage back to children from the monarch's marriages to both Henry and the king of France. In addition, Hepburn had played a role in boosting O'Toole's career when she urged producer Sam Spiegel to cast him in Lawrence of Arabia (1962). But for all her respect for him as an actor, she was not about to put up with his by-then legendary drunken shenanigans. According to Barbara Leaming's biography of Katharine Hepburn (Crown Publishers, Inc.), when the film company arrived in Ireland for three weeks of rehearsals for the film, the actress laid down the law: "You're known to be late! I intend for you to be on time. I hear you stay out at night. You'd better be rested in the morning if you're going to work with me!" Hepburn and O'Toole set the pace for the film's younger players, one of the strongest collections of film beginners to appear together. Making their film debuts were Nigel Terry, who would go on to play King Arthur in John Boorman's Excalibur (1981), and future James Bond Timothy Dalton. Richard, Henry and Eleanor's warrior son who turns out to be a closeted homosexual, was the first major film role for Anthony Hopkins, who would go on to win stardom and an Oscar® as the infamous Hannibal Lecter. Surprisingly, The Lion in Winter opened to mixed reviews. While many critics applauded its re-creation of the middle ages, the witty dialogue and the star's impressive performances, some others thought the picture had reduced major historical events to the level of soap opera. When it won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Picture, four critics quit the group in protest. The picture's success at the box office soon wiped out the memory of any dissension. It would go on to win seven Oscar® nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (Anthony Harvey), Best Actor and Best Actress. On Oscar® night, it captured the awards for its score, screenplay and, in a surprise tie with Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl, Hepburn's performance. Today The Lion in Winter enjoys a continued popularity in revival screenings, television airings and video rentals. The stage version has been performed successfully around the globe, most recently in a Broadway revival starring Laurence Fishburne and Stockard Channing. Plans were recently announced for a new television version, set to air in 2003, starring Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close. Producer: Martin Poll Director: Anthony Harvey Screenplay: James Goldman, based on his Play Cinematography: Douglas Slocombe Art Direction: Peter Murton, Peter James Music: John Barry Principal Cast: Peter O'Toole (Henry II), Katharine Hepburn (Eleanor of Aquitaine), Jane Merrow (Princess Alais), John Castle (Prince Geoffrey), Timothy Dalton (King Philip), Anthony Hopkins (Prince Richard the Lion-hearted), Nigel Terry (Prince John), Nigel Stock (William Marshall). C-135m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Frank Miller

Critics' Corner - The Lion in Winter


The Critics' Corner on THE LION IN WINTER

When The Lion in Winter was voted Best Picture by the New York Film Critics Circle, Life magazine critic Richard Schickel hit the roof and accused fellow members of being "deadwood" for picking the historical drama over John Cassavetes Faces (1968). Schickel and three others resigned in protest but re-joined the following year.

Winner of the Worst Film of the Year Award presented annually by the Harvard Lampoon.

"The most literate movie of the year." -Charles Champlin, Los Angeles Times, 1968

"Miss Hepburn certainly crowns her career as Eleanor, triumphant in her creation of a complete and womanly queen, a vulture mother who sees her sons too clearly, an aging beauty who can look her image in the eye, a sophisticate whose shrewdness is matched only by her humor." -Judith Crist, New York, 1968

"This film is most importantly a great duet, superbly rendered." -John Russell Taylor, London Times, 1968.

"This is Mr. O'Toole's second portrayal of Henry II on film. The contrast between the limp, ineffectual king in Becket and the bold dynamism of the crowned head in The Lion in Winter emphasizes the range of Mr. O'Toole's talents." -John Allen, Christian Science Monitor, 1968.

"There is a fusion, a merging of identities that makes this perhaps the finest characterization of [Hepburn's] career." -Saturday Review, 1968.

"An intense, fierce, personal drama put across by outstanding performances." -Variety, October 23, 1968.

"Outdoorsy and fun, full of the kind of plotting and action people used to go to just plain movies for." -Renata Adler, New York Times, October 31, 1968.

"Henry and Eleanor are reduced to a TV-sized version of the sovereigns next door, their epic struggle shrunk to sitcom squabbles." -Time, 1968.

"Imitation wit and imitation poetry at the 12th-century court of the Plantagenets...it was brought to the screen as if were poetic drama of a very high order, and the point of view is too limited and anachronistic to justify all this howling and sobbing and carrying on....Goldman's dialogue can't bear the weight of the film's aspirations to grandeur, and, as Eleanor of Aquitaine, Katharine Hepburn does a gallant-ravaged-great-lady number. She draws upon our feelings for her, not for the character she's playing, and the self-exploitation is hard to take." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies.

Awards & Honors

The Lion in Winter won Academy Awards® for Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn), Best Original Music (John Barry) and Best Adapted Screenplay (James Goldman). Nominations for Best Picture, Actor (Peter O'Toole), Director (Anthony Harvey) and Costume Design (Margaret Furse).

It also won British Academy Awards for Hepburn and John Barry (music) in addition to nominations for screenplay, cinematography, costumes, soundtrack and supporting actor (Anthony Hopkins).

Other awards include:
- Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture Drama, Actor in a Drama (O'Toole). Nominations for Best Actress, Supporting Actress (Jane Merrow), Director, Screenplay, Original Score.
- New York Film Critics Best Film Award.
- Writers Guilds of America and Britain awards to James Goldman.
- Directors Guild of America Award to Anthony Harvey and Assistant Director Kip Gowans.
- British Society of Cinematographers Award to Douglas Slocombe.
- David Di Donatello Award (Italy's main film award) for Best Foreign Production.

Hepburn's Oscar® for this film made her the first performer to have won three times in a Best Actor or Actress category (Walter Brennan won three times as Best Supporting Actor). Her win for On Golden Pond (1981) gave her the all-time record of four. Having won the year before for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), Hepburn became the third performer to win in consecutive years (including Spencer Tracy and Luise Rainer). Since then Tom Hanks has joined the list of consecutive winners.

Hepburn tied for Best Actress with Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl (1968), the only time that has ever happened in this category. There has been one tie in the Best Actor category between Wallace Beery in The Champ (1931) and Fredric March in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931). Oddly enough, there were then only three nominees in the acting categories that year, making Alfred Lunt (in The Guardsman, 1931) the sole "loser."

O'Toole's nomination in this role made him the only actor to be nominated twice for playing the same character in two completely different films (Al Pacino has two nominations for playing Michael Corleone in the Godfather movies, but the second was for a sequel by the same writers and director).

Compiled by Rob Nixon

Critics' Corner - The Lion in Winter

The Critics' Corner on THE LION IN WINTER When The Lion in Winter was voted Best Picture by the New York Film Critics Circle, Life magazine critic Richard Schickel hit the roof and accused fellow members of being "deadwood" for picking the historical drama over John Cassavetes Faces (1968). Schickel and three others resigned in protest but re-joined the following year. Winner of the Worst Film of the Year Award presented annually by the Harvard Lampoon. "The most literate movie of the year." -Charles Champlin, Los Angeles Times, 1968 "Miss Hepburn certainly crowns her career as Eleanor, triumphant in her creation of a complete and womanly queen, a vulture mother who sees her sons too clearly, an aging beauty who can look her image in the eye, a sophisticate whose shrewdness is matched only by her humor." -Judith Crist, New York, 1968 "This film is most importantly a great duet, superbly rendered." -John Russell Taylor, London Times, 1968. "This is Mr. O'Toole's second portrayal of Henry II on film. The contrast between the limp, ineffectual king in Becket and the bold dynamism of the crowned head in The Lion in Winter emphasizes the range of Mr. O'Toole's talents." -John Allen, Christian Science Monitor, 1968. "There is a fusion, a merging of identities that makes this perhaps the finest characterization of [Hepburn's] career." -Saturday Review, 1968. "An intense, fierce, personal drama put across by outstanding performances." -Variety, October 23, 1968. "Outdoorsy and fun, full of the kind of plotting and action people used to go to just plain movies for." -Renata Adler, New York Times, October 31, 1968. "Henry and Eleanor are reduced to a TV-sized version of the sovereigns next door, their epic struggle shrunk to sitcom squabbles." -Time, 1968. "Imitation wit and imitation poetry at the 12th-century court of the Plantagenets...it was brought to the screen as if were poetic drama of a very high order, and the point of view is too limited and anachronistic to justify all this howling and sobbing and carrying on....Goldman's dialogue can't bear the weight of the film's aspirations to grandeur, and, as Eleanor of Aquitaine, Katharine Hepburn does a gallant-ravaged-great-lady number. She draws upon our feelings for her, not for the character she's playing, and the self-exploitation is hard to take." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies. Awards & Honors The Lion in Winter won Academy Awards® for Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn), Best Original Music (John Barry) and Best Adapted Screenplay (James Goldman). Nominations for Best Picture, Actor (Peter O'Toole), Director (Anthony Harvey) and Costume Design (Margaret Furse). It also won British Academy Awards for Hepburn and John Barry (music) in addition to nominations for screenplay, cinematography, costumes, soundtrack and supporting actor (Anthony Hopkins). Other awards include: - Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture Drama, Actor in a Drama (O'Toole). Nominations for Best Actress, Supporting Actress (Jane Merrow), Director, Screenplay, Original Score. - New York Film Critics Best Film Award. - Writers Guilds of America and Britain awards to James Goldman. - Directors Guild of America Award to Anthony Harvey and Assistant Director Kip Gowans. - British Society of Cinematographers Award to Douglas Slocombe. - David Di Donatello Award (Italy's main film award) for Best Foreign Production. Hepburn's Oscar® for this film made her the first performer to have won three times in a Best Actor or Actress category (Walter Brennan won three times as Best Supporting Actor). Her win for On Golden Pond (1981) gave her the all-time record of four. Having won the year before for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), Hepburn became the third performer to win in consecutive years (including Spencer Tracy and Luise Rainer). Since then Tom Hanks has joined the list of consecutive winners. Hepburn tied for Best Actress with Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl (1968), the only time that has ever happened in this category. There has been one tie in the Best Actor category between Wallace Beery in The Champ (1931) and Fredric March in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931). Oddly enough, there were then only three nominees in the acting categories that year, making Alfred Lunt (in The Guardsman, 1931) the sole "loser." O'Toole's nomination in this role made him the only actor to be nominated twice for playing the same character in two completely different films (Al Pacino has two nominations for playing Michael Corleone in the Godfather movies, but the second was for a sequel by the same writers and director). Compiled by Rob Nixon

Quotes

In a world where carpenters get resurrected, everything is possible.
- Eleanor of Aquitaine
Now see here, boy...
- Henry II, King of England
I am a king--I am no man's "boy"!
- Philip II, King of France
A king? Because you put your ass on purple cushions?
- Henry II, King of England
My, what a lovely girl. How could her king have left her?
- Eleanor of Aquitaine
You don't dare go!
- Eleanor of Aquitaine
Say that again at noon, you'll say it to my horse's ass! Lamb, I'll be rid of you by Easter: you can count your reign in days!
- Henry II, King of England
Poor John. Who says poor John? Don't everybody sob at once! My God, if I went up in flames there's not a living soul who'd pee on me to put the fire out!
- Prince John
Let's strike a flint and see.
- Prince Richard

Trivia

This was the second time that 'O'Toole, Peter' played King Henry II. The first time was in Becket (1964).

Katharine Hepburn is descended from Elinor of Aquitaine in numerous lines, from both Elinor's marriage to Louis VII, King of France, and Elinor's marriage to Henry II, King of England.

Timothy Dalton's first film role.

While filming close-ups of Richard (Anthony Hopkins) in his jousting costume, the horse was spooked and bolted. Hopkins fell off and broke his arm. Filming the scene with his sword raised above his jousting opponent was very difficult due to this.

Notes

Copyright length: 137 min. Location scenes filmed in Ireland, Wales, and around Tarascon, France. Opened in London in December 1968.

Miscellaneous Notes

Voted Best Picture of 1968 by the New York Film Critics Association.

Voted One of the Ten Best Films of 1968 by the National Board of Review.

Released in United States Fall October 30, 1968

Re-released in United States December 16, 2016

Re-released in United States on Video March 23, 1994

Feature acting debut for Anthony Hopkins, Timothy Dalton and Nigel Terry.

Released in USA on video.

Formerly distributed by Embassy Home Entertainment.

Formerly distributed by Nelson Entertainment.

Released in United States Fall October 30, 1968

Re-released in United States December 16, 2016

Re-released in United States on Video March 23, 1994 (25th Anniversary Edition)

Anthony Harvey was honored for outstanding directorial achievement by the Directors Guild of America, but lost the Oscar to Carol Reed for "Oliver" (Great Britain/1968).