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Theatre: Anne Of The Thousand Days

"She has the face of a simpering sheep. And the manners. But not the morals. I don't want her near me."
Anne Boleyn, about Jane Seymour.

A 1948 play by Maxwell Anderson, Anne of the Thousand Days is a play about Henry VIII and his marriage to Anne Boleyn.

After having ditched his first wife, Katharine of Aragon, Henry sets his sights on Mary Boleyn. He changes course and heads for her sister, Anne. They wed, but their bliss ends when she gives birth to a daughter, instead of the son Henry wants. Afterwards, Henry goes for Jane Seymour and tries to find a way out of his current marriage.

Because of its subject matter, Studios weren't eager to film the play just after its debut. The film version, starring Richard Burton and Geneviève Bujold, came out in 1969, shortly after The Hays Code was abandoned. Out of its 10 Academy Award nominations, its only win was for its elaborate costumes.


  • Face Death with Dignity: Anne.
    "Go your way, and I'll go mine.
    You to your death, and I to my expiation.
    For there is such a thing as expiation.
    It involves dying to live."
  • How We Got Here: The story opens with Henry signing Anne's death warrant.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Inverted; Henry asks Anne for a kiss, and she kisses his hand. "It was not such a kiss I meant, my dear," he says.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: During his closing monologue, Henry imagines Anne with her hair up, her fur collar turned down, and a ring of blood around her neck.
  • Kangaroo Court: Anne's trial for adultery.
    "You know this is not a trial, Uncle Norfolk! It's like an evil dream, with no witnesses, no defense for the accused, no sifting of evidence, no waft of air from the outside, and yet I'm being tried here for my life—and five men are being tried!"
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Henry tells Anne the thought of her watching him has made him impotent with all other women, who laugh at him in bed.
  • Really Gets Around: Henry, who confides to Smeaton that his advances have never been turned down.
    "When I've wanted them, I've had them. And once I've had a wench, I'm cured."
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech / Crowning Moment Of Awesome: Anne's ferocious verbal attack on Henry in the Tower.
  • Unwanted Spouse: First Katharine, then Anne.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Like most fictionalizations of Anne's life and death, the play and movie take liberties with the truth. Anne's Crowning Moment Of Awesome in the script could never have occurred in real life, as Henry didn't visit Anne after her arrest.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: Cromwell promised Smeaton that he would be allowed to live if he confessed to carnal relations with the queen. Henry tells Smeaton that it was a lie and he's to die regardless of what he says.

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