A Private Life Rather Crazy: The Film, “The Private Life of Henry VIII”

The 1933 British movie, The Private Life of Henry VIII, by Alexander Korda, ushers us into the awful sphere wherein Anne Boleyn (Merle Oberon) is executed, but, avoiding all genuine unpleasantness, the picture doesn’t make this very troubling.  The film is pure tragicomedy, yielding, nonetheless, a rueful message about marriage:  it is madness.  Little is said about Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne B., but what follows are dismaying details about the other unions with imperfect women, married to an imperfect man.  Charles Laughton (as Henry) is better here than he is in Rembrandt.  He is humbler, savvier, as well as commanding and rivetingly passionate.  Screenwriters Lajos Biro and Arthur Wimperis did quite well with drama and wit.

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