Becket (1964 film)

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Becket is a 1964 film about the relationship between Thomas Becket and Henry II.

Directed by Peter Glenville. Written by Edward Anhalt, based on the play by Jean Anouilh.
A taste for wine and women made them friends. A sudden clash made them man and martyr… which led to murder!  (taglines)

King Henry II[edit]

  • [to Becket, after appointing him Chancellor] I never did anything without your advice. No one knew it. Now everyone will. That's all. [puts a ring on Becket's finger] There. That's the Great Seal of England. Don't lose it. Without the Seal, there's no more England, and we'll all have to pack up and go back to Normandy.
  • [laughing] It's funny. It's too funny. He's made mincemeat of them. I'm surrounded by FOOLS! Becket is the only intelligent man in my kingdom and he's against me!
  • I am the King, Thomas. And so long as we are on this Earth, you owe me the first move. I'm prepared to forget a lot of things, but not the fact that I am King. You yourself taught me that.
  • Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?
  • Is the honor of God washed clean enough? Are you satisfied now, Thomas?

Thomas a Becket[edit]

  • When you Normans invaded England, you seized our Saxon lands, burned our Saxon homes, raped our Saxon sisters. Naturally, you hate Saxons.
  • Dear Lord, I wish there were something I really regretted parting with, so that I might offer it to You. But forgive me, Lord, it's like going on a holiday. I've never enjoyed myself so much in my whole life. Lord? Are you sure you're not laughing at me? It all seems far too easy.
  • You are a creature of extremes, aren't you, Brother John?
  • [final words] Poor Henry.

King Louis VII of France[edit]

  • The King of England and his Ambassadors can drown themselves in what they are impertinent enough to call their English channel.
  • My dear man, crowned heads are free to play a little game of courtesy, but nations owe one another none.
  • [to Becket] You're the ideal guest.
  • I'm glad you weren't born on this side of the channel, Thomas. You'd've been a thorn in my side, too.
  • [to aide] You know, it's a strange thing, but Becket's safety has become quite dear to me.


King Henry II: You know, when I took you into my service, everyone predicted you would put a knife in my back.
Thomas a Becket: Did you believe them?
King Henry II: No. I assured them that you were a man of honor. And a collaborator.
Thomas a Becket: That was accurate of you.
King Henry II: How do you combine the two?
Thomas a Becket: My Lord?
King Henry II: Honor... and collaboration.
Thomas a Becket: .... I don't try. I love good living, and good living is Norman. I love life, and a Saxon's only birthright is to be slaughtered. One collaborates to live.
King Henry II: And honor?
Thomas a Becket: Honor is a concern of the living. One can't very well be concerned about it once one's dead.
King Henry II: You're too clever for me, Thomas. But I know there's something not quite right about your reasoning.
Thomas a Becket: Honor is a private matter within. It's an idea, and every man has his own version of it.
King Henry II: How gracefully you tell your King to mind his own business.

Thomas a Becket: Tonight, you can do me the honor of christening my forks.
King Henry II: Forks?
Thomas a Becket: Yes, from Florence. New little invention. It's for pronging meat and carrying it to the mouth. It saves you dirtying your fingers.
King Henry II: But then you dirty the fork.
Thomas a Becket: Yes, but it's washable.
King Henry II: So are your fingers. I don't see the point.
Thomas a Becket: Well, it hasn't any, practically speaking. But it's refined, it's subtle, it's very... un-Norman. [Henry laughs at that.]

Thomas a Becket: Meanwhile, we have some business to discuss. I've been studying the dispatches from England.
King Henry II: You love work, don't you? If you love anything.
Thomas a Becket: I love doing what I have to do and doing it well.
King Henry II: You'd be as efficient against me as for me, wouldn't you?
Thomas a Becket: If Fate had arranged it that way.
King Henry II: So what in most people is morality, in you, it's just an exercise in... what's the word?
Thomas a Becket: Aesthetics.
King Henry II: Yes, that's the word. Always "aesthetics."

King Henry II: But what will God say if I attack His Church? After all, they're His bishops.
Thomas a Becket: We must manage the Church. One can always come to a sensible little arrangement with God.
King Henry II: [laughs] Becket,... you're a monster.
Thomas a Becket: [chuckles] You flatter me, My Lord. But please, my Lord, dress quickly. It's, uh... it's inelegant for conquerers to be late.
King Henry II: [laughs even harder] You're a MONSTER!

King Henry II: Am I the strongest or am I not?
Thomas a Becket: You are today, but one must never drive one's enemy to despair; it makes him strong. Gentleness is better politics, it saps virility. A good occupational force must never crush. It must corrupt.

Thomas a Becket: Well, now. Wouldn't you rather have a Saxon Archbishop than a Norman one? [Brother John doesn't answer] I hope I won't regret sending for you.
Brother John: Why did you?
Thomas a Becket: I'm not sure. Perhaps in a young, intemperate way, yours is a voice that is good for me to hear.
Brother John: Then why--
Thomas a Becket: But PLEASE. Not too often, and not too loud, Brother John.
Brother John: You betrayed your Saxon race. Now you betray God.
Thomas a Becket: Perhaps you will succeed in teaching me humility. It's a virtue I've never really mastered.

Thomas a Becket: [returning the Chancellor's ring] Forgive me.
King Henry II: You give the lions of England back to me, like a little boy who doesn't want to play anymore. I would have gone to war with all England's might behind me, and even against England's interests, to defend you, Thomas. I would have given away my life laughingly for you. Only I loved you and you didn't love me. That's the difference.

King Henry II: Becket is my enemy. But in the human balance, traitor that he is and naked as his mother made him, he's worth a hundred of you, madam, with your crown and your jewels and your august uncle, the Emperor, into the bargain. I'm forced to fight him now and crush him, but at least he gave me with open hands everything that is at all good in me. And you have never given me anything but your carping mediocrity and your everlasting obsession with your puny little person and what you thought was due to it. That is why I forbid you to smile while Becket is being destroyed.
Eleanor of Aquitaine: I gave you my youth. Gave you your children.
King Henry II: I don't LIKE my children! And as for your youth, that withered flower, pressed between the pages of a hymn book since you were twelve years old with its watery blood and stale insipid scent, you can bid farewell to that without a tear. Your body was a empty desert, madam, that duty forced me to wander in alone. But you have never been a wife to me! And Becket was my friend. Red-blooded, generous and full of strength. [briefly grieves] Oh, my Thomas.
Empress Matilda: And I. I have given you nothing, I suppose.
King Henry II: Life. Yes. Thank you. But after that, I never saw you except in a passageway on your way to a ball in your crown and ermine mantle ten minutes before official ceremonies, when you were forced to tolerate my presence. NO! No one on this Earth has ever loved me! Except Becket.
Empress Matilda: Call him back, then. Absolve him if he loves you. Give him back his power. But do something.
King Henry II: I am. I'm learning to be alone.

King Henry II: You never loved me, did you, Thomas?!
Thomas a Becket: In so far as I was capable of love,.... yes, I did.

King Henry II: Tell me, do you ever think?
Baron: Never, sire! A gentleman has better things to do.

Brother Philip: Your Grace, there are armed men at the doors. I bolted the doors, but...
Thomas a Becket: It's time for Vespers. Does one bolt the doors during Vespers? I've never heard of it.
Brother Philip: But, your Grace...
Thomas a Becket: Open them. Everything must be as it should be for divine service.

King Henry II: The honor of God, gentlemen, is a very good thing. And all things considered, one gains by having it on one's side. Thomas Becket, our friend, always used to say so. Tonight in counsel, we will determine what punishment his murderers should receive.
Baron: Sire. They are unknown.
King Henry II: Our justice will seek them out, you may be sure. [gives the barons a pointed look] It is a time, my dear barons,... for all of us to do penance.


  • A taste for wine and women made them friends. A sudden clash made them man and martyr...which led to murder!
  • An age of rampant lusts, abandon, runaway passions. An age brought bristling to life by two of the most exciting stars of our time!


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