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The Next Reel • Season 13 • Series: 1965 BAFTAs Best Film From Any Source Nominees • Becket


“But where is Becket’s honour?”

Before cameras could roll on Becket, the film’s producers had to secure the screen rights to Jean Anouilh’s original French play. Anouilh was initially hesitant to sell the rights, but the persistence of producer Hal B. Wallis convinced him to sign on. With the acclaimed playwright on board, the next task was finding a director who could bring the theatrical story to life on the big screen. The producers eventually landed on Peter Glenville, an experienced theater director who had recently made the jump to film. With Glenville set to direct, Wallis turned his attention to casting the two crucial lead roles. Several big names were considered, but it ultimately came down to Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole. The two actors had never worked together before, but their chemistry and talent made them the perfect choices to embody this complex medieval tale of friendship and betrayal. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we kick off the 1965 BAFTAs Best Film From Any Source Nominees series with a conversation about Glenville’s 1964 film Becket.

Here’s a hint at what we talk about:

We dive deep into the fascinating central relationship between King Henry II and Thomas Becket. Their intimate friendship takes surprising twists and turns, and we examine how Burton and O’Toole bring nuance, humor, and gravitas to their performances. We also discuss how Becket grapples with weighty themes like loyalty, honor, and the separation of church and state. Though we take issue with some historical inaccuracies, we find the film an engrossing character study bolstered by its two talented leads.

Here are a few other points in our discussion:

  • Appreciating Becket‘s unexpected comedic tone and banter
  • The riveting confrontations between Henry and Becket
  • Questioning the importance of the Saxon/Norman divide
  • Assessing Peter Glenville’s brisk direction and Anne V. Coates’ editing
  • Burton and O’Toole’s captivating performances

Becket gives a revealing look at how friendship, politics, and religion collide for two powerful men. We have a great time talking about it, so check it out then tune in. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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