John Walsh (1996)

15 Certificate


Our Score
In this low-budget but fascinating little gem, that fine Irish actor TP McKenna takes on the larger-than-life role of Henry VIII, a big-actor part if ever there was one. Set in the final year of the old king's reign, it explores what happens when an ailing Henry is forced to take refuge in a seemingly deserted country house following an assassination attempt on the open road. Holed up with a bunch of snarky retainers, the wounded monarch confronts his own mortality and even some ghosts of the past (played by a spectral Jean Marsh), while a murderous mystery brews outside his bedroom door. It's an intimate, occasionally mournful affair and is sustained by a richly nuanced performance from McKenna, who shifts from bombast ("his maturity of years hasn't mellowed him") to reflection and feverish confusion with seamless skill. McKenna had played opposite Richard Burton as Henry in Anne of the Thousand Days in 1969 and his turn here is right up there with the Welshman's. It's a true labour of love for writer/director John Walsh, who remastered the picture years after the original negative went missing. He makes the most of a haunting orchestral score and the spacious location of Charlton House in Greenwich to create his own crown jewel.

Cast & Crew

King Henry VIII T P McKenna
The Queens Jean Marsh
Thorn James Coombes
Duncan Peter Miles
George George Staines
Malcolm Peter Sowerbutts
Will Mark Montgomerie
Pregnant girl Briony Salton
Director John Walsh
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: Fremantlemedia Enterprise LtdGuidance: Violence, brief nudityAvailable on: DVDReleased on: 12 Sep 2014