The Private Life of Henry VIII

Watch The Private Life of Henry VIII

"HE GAVE HIS WIVES A PAIN IN THE NECK, And did his necking with an axe. Henry, the Eighth Wonder of the World! And this picture...the wonder of all time!"
  • Passed
  • 1933
  • 1 hr 37 min
  • 7.0  (4,779)

The Private Life of Henry VIII is a 1933 historical drama film directed by Alexander Korda and starring Charles Laughton, Robert Donat, and Franklin Dyall. The film tells the story of the infamous King Henry VIII, his love affairs, political struggles, and his marriages. It offers a rare insight into the private life of one of England's most controversial monarchs.

The film opens with Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, on trial for failing to provide the king with a male heir. Despite her plea and her supporters, Henry VIII makes the decision to end his marriage to Catherine and wed Anne Boleyn. The movie depicts the political turmoil that ensued with the pope's refusal to grant Henry an annulment and the king's eventual split with the Roman Catholic Church.

Charles Laughton delivers an exceptional performance as Henry VIII, showcasing the king's volatile temper, quick wit, and insatiable appetite for food, wine, and women. His portrayal of the king's physical appearance, including his weight and prominence of his jowls, gives authenticity to the man whom history remembers as being notoriously obese.

Robert Donat gives a standout performance as Thomas Culpeper, a young courtier who captures the attention of Henry VIII's fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Their illicit affair threatens to cause further public scandal for the king, and ultimately leads to Catherine's downfall. Franklin Dyall plays the man who replaces Cardinal Wolsey, Sir Thomas Cromwell, a cunning politician who benefits from Henry VIII's divorces, and who provides the king with a scheme to rid himself of Anne Boleyn.

The film's strengths are in its historical accuracy and excellent direction. Alexander Korda, known for his epic productions, brings a grand scale to the Tudor court with lavish sets and costumes. The use of black and white film also adds to the authenticity of the story setting, giving texture to the costumes, the architecture of the buildings, and even the expressions of the faces of the characters.

It's worth noting that while the film stays true to Henry VIII's history, it does gloss over some of the more violent and gruesome aspects of Henry's reign. The film's focus is instead on the relationships between the king and his wives, providing insight into how their personalities shaped his decisions.

One of the most memorable scenes is Henry VIII's wedding to Anne of Cleves, which was arranged by Cromwell, but does not live up to Henry VIII's expectations because of her plainness. Laughton conveys Henry's frustration with the situation perfectly, and the scene is both comical and poignant.

Overall, The Private Life of Henry VIII is an excellent depiction of the legendary Tudor king, exploring both his public persona and the private man behind the crown. The performances from the lead actors are superb, and the film's direction and production values make for an entertaining and informative history lesson. The movie is a must-see for fans of the Tudor era, and history buffs alike.

The Private Life of Henry VIII is a 1933 history movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 37 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.0.

The Private Life of Henry VIII
Where to Watch The Private Life of Henry VIII
The Private Life of Henry VIII is available to watch free on Crackle, Plex, The Roku Channel Free and Tubi TV. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Max, Apple TV Channels, FuboTV, Apple TV and Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent The Private Life of Henry VIII for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 37 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.0  (4,779)