is a 1964 film adaption of the French play Becket of the Honour of God
by Jean Anouilh, starring Peter O'Toole
as Henry II
and Richard Burton
as Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In 12th-century England, King Henry II is at odds with the church because he spends most of his time hunting, drinking, and womanizing with his Saxon friend Thomas Becket, who also advises him on matters of state. Following the death of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry appoints Becket as his replacement, despite the protests of most of the clergy and Becket himself, who claims that he cannot serve both God and the king. Becket takes his new position seriously and finds himself in opposition to Henry's interference in the church. Henry becomes furious because he mistakenly believed that installing his best friend as archbishop would give him control of the church. He banishes Becket from England and now the two friends become mortal enemies.
Four years later O'Toole would play Henry II again as an older man in the film adaption of the play The Lion in Winter
with Katherine Hepburn
as his estranged wife Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Contains examples of:
- The Atoner: Becket, once he's made Archbishop, devotes himself completely to God to make up for his sins. Also by the end, Henry for ordering Becket's death.
- Chess Motifs:
- Driven to Suicide: Lady Gwendolyn
- Dueling-Stars Movie
- Dysfunctional Family: When you see Henry's home life, you don't blame him for wanting to hang out with Becket.
- The Good Chancellor: Becket to Henry until Henry makes him archbishop.
- Evil Matriarch: Henry's mother the Empress Matilda.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Until Henry makes Becket Archbishop of Canterbury.
- Homoerotic Subtext: Henry directly compares his love for Becket to his relationship with his wife, with Becket coming out far ahead, even moaning his name at one point. His mother says he has a "obsession with this man that is unhealthy and unnatural" and he's behaving like a scorned lover. His wife says she can tolerate the King's mistresses, but will not tolerate his relationship with Becket. Interestingly this has no historical basis.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Becket thinks the old impovershed Saxon farmer he and Henry find may have been handsome in his youth.
- It Will Never Catch On; Henry doesn't see the use of these new implements for eating called "forks":
Thomas Becket: Tonight you can do me the honor of christening my forks.
King Henry II: Forks?
Becket: Yes, from Florence. New little invention. It's for pronging meat and carrying it to the mouth. It saves you dirtying your fingers.
Henry II: But then you dirty the fork.
Becket: Yes, but it's washable.
Henry II: So are your fingers. I don't see the point.
- Large Ham: Peter O'Toole at his hammiest.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Becket saves a Saxon girl taken from her family from being ravished by Henry. Henry in return demands he sleep with Becket's mistress. She kills herself before they can do the deed.
- Requisite Royal Regalia: Henry II in this film. Averted when O'Toole plays him again in The Lion in Winter.
- Rhetorical Request Blunder: "Will no-one rid me of this meddlesome priest?!"
- Royal Brat: Henry's eldest son, also named Henry.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: The Saxon girl Henry finds and takes from her family to sleep with.
- The Snark King: Henry, especially around his own family.
- A Taste of the Lash: Henry has his himself flogged by monks after he orders the death of Becket.
- Turbulent Priest: Becket was the Trope Namer although Henry calls him "meddlesome" in the movie.
- We Used to Be Friends