Adapted from Robert Bolt's play (by Bolt himself), this is the tale of Sir Thomas More (Scofield), the Catholic statesman who opposed King Henry VIII's (Shaw) self-appointment as Spiritual Leader of the Church of England, all because the Pope wouldn't grant his wife an annulment. More protests, Henry loses his rag, the rest is history...
In 1966, A Man for All Seasons scooped the Academy Awards, with Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor (Scofield), Best Director (Zinnemann), Best Screenplay (Robert Bolt, adapting his hit play), Best Colour Cinematography (Ted Moore) and Best Costumes (Elizabeth Hafenden and Joan Bridge). The British historical drama format soon became tiresome, but it was fresh here, with the emphasis on the quality of the script rather than the cut of the clothes.
Fortunately, Bolt’s dialogue avoids all the cliches of historical drama—there is an absolute minimum of the kind of thigh-slapping thee-and-thou-ing most of these films were stuck with and his theatre-trained actors never over-ham it— and he was lucky enough to have in Sir Thomas More a subject whose witticisms remain pointed.
Prestigious, well turned out piece of British historical drama with enough genuine intrigue and wit to persuade some audiences they aren't watching a history lesson.