Anne of the Thousand Days

Anne of the Thousand Days
Original movie poster for the film Anne of the Thousand Days.jpg
Original theatrical poster
Directed byCharles Jarrott
Produced byHal B. Wallis
Screenplay byBridget Boland
John Hale
Richard Sokolove
Based onAnne of the Thousand Days by
Maxwell Anderson
StarringRichard Burton
Geneviève Bujold
Anthony Quayle
John Colicos
Irene Papas
Music byGeorges Delerue
CinematographyArthur Ibbetson, BSC
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • 18 December 1969 (1969-12-18) (United States)
  • 23 February 1970 (1970-02-23) (United Kingdom)
Running time
145 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$6,134,264 (US/Canada rentals)[1]

Anne of the Thousand Days is a 1969 British costume drama made by Hal Wallis Productions and distributed by Universal Pictures. It was directed by Charles Jarrott and produced by Hal B. Wallis. The film tells the story of Anne Boleyn. The screenplay is an adaptation by Bridget Boland, John Hale and Richard Sokolove of the 1948 play by Maxwell Anderson. Anderson employed blank verse for parts of his play, but most examples of this were removed from the screenplay. One blank verse episode that was retained was Anne's soliloquy in the Tower of London. The opening of the play was also changed, with Thomas Cromwell telling Henry VIII the outcome of the trial and Henry then recalling his marriage to Anne, rather than Anne speaking first and then Henry remembering in flashback.[2]

The film stars Richard Burton as King Henry VIII and Geneviève Bujold as Anne Boleyn. Irene Papas plays Catherine of Aragon. Others in the cast include Anthony Quayle, John Colicos, Michael Hordern, Katharine Blake, Peter Jeffrey, Joseph O'Conor, William Squire, Vernon Dobtcheff, Denis Quilley, Esmond Knight and T. P. McKenna, who would later go on to play Henry VIII in Monarch. Elizabeth Taylor makes a brief, uncredited appearance.

Despite receiving some negative reviews[3] and mixed reviews from the New York Times[4] and Pauline Kael,[5] the film was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won the award for best costumes. Geneviève Bujold's portrayal of Anne, her first in an English-speaking film, was, however, very highly praised, even by Time magazine, which otherwise skewered the movie.[6] According to the Academy Awards exposé Inside Oscar, an expensive advertising campaign was mounted by Universal Studios that included serving champagne and filet mignon to members of the Academy following each screening.[7]

Background and production

The play Anne of the Thousand Days, the film's basis, was first enacted on Broadway in the Shubert Theatre on 8 December 1948; staged by H. C. Potter, with Rex Harrison and Joyce Redman as Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn respectively, running 288 performances; Harrison won a Tony Award for his performance.

Cinematically, Anne of the Thousand Days took twenty years to reach the screen because its themes – adultery, illegitimacy, incest – were then unacceptable to the US motion picture production code. The film was made on such locations as Penshurst Place and Hever Castle,[8] and at Pinewood and Shepperton Studios. Hever Castle was one of the main settings for the film; it was also the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.[9]

British actress, Olivia Hussey, was first choice for the role of Anne Boleyn.[10] When the producer, Hal B. Wallis, first met Hussey in New York in November of 1967 at a party for her then upcoming film, Romeo and Juliet (1968), he offered her the title role. In addition, he also offered her to star alongside John Wayne in True Grit (1969). In her 2019 memoir, Hussey stated that she had “mumbled something about being interested in Anne of the Thousand Days” but added that she “couldn’t see herself with Wayne”. She claims that this “adolescent and opinionated” remark inevitably ended her professional relationship with Wallis and he immediately withdrew his offer from her. “It had taken me less than a minute to talk my way out of it” Hussey stated.[11]

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