• PG
  • Peter Glenville (1964)
  • UK / US
  • 142 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
4 out of 5

This beautifully photographed drama is distinguished by a couple of charismatic performances from Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole. Edward Anhalt's Oscar-winning script from Jean Anouilh's stage play tells of the friendship at the 12th-century English court between O'Toole's Henry II and Burton's Thomas Becket. Henry's appointment of his childhood friend as Archbishop of Canterbury is the catalyst for the movie's battle of wills - and a battle of acting greats as these top-class thespians take the screen by storm. The motivational insights of the power struggle between the two are more modern than medieval, but they make for a wholly engrossing portrayal of the past.

Plot Summary

Historical drama starring Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole. England in the 12th century: when King Henry II appoints his drinking companion and best friend Thomas Becket to be his new Archbishop of Canterbury, he believes it will rid him of interference from the Catholic Church in his affairs. However, Becket undergoes something of a spiritual transformation when he takes up his new office, and this soon brings him into conflict with an impatient and uncompromising monarch.

Cast and crew


Thomas Becket
Richard Burton
King Henry II
Peter O'Toole
King Louis VII of France
John Gielgud
Bishop Folliot
Donald Wolfit
Queen Matilda
Martita Hunt
Queen Eleanor
Pamela Brown
Pope Alexander III
Paolo Stoppa
Cardinal Zambelli
Gino Cervi
Brother John
David Weston
Archbishop of Canterbury
Felix Aylmer
Henry II's baron
Percy Herbert
Henry II's baron
Niall MacGinnis
Henry II's baron
Christopher Rhodes
Henry II's baron
Peter Jeffrey
Henry II's baron
Michael Miller (1)
Henry II's baron
Peter Prowse
Robert de Beaumont, Duke of Leicester
Inigo Jackson
Sian Phillips
French girl
Veronique Vendell
Peasant's daughter
Jennifer Hilary
Brother Philip
Geoffrey Bayldon
Pope's secretary
Graham Stark
French tailor
Victor Spinetti
Edward Woodward


Peter Glenville

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Paramount Film Service Ltd
Available on video and DVD
Certificate PG
Second Sight