Friday, April 23, 2010

Street Legal Henry

For a limited time only, the Internet Movie Database is serving up free viewings of Charles Laughton's Oscar-winning performance in 1933's The Private Life Of Henry VIII. And we here at the Monkey pass it along to you, legally and free of charge.

If you've never seen The Private Life Of Henry VIII, I recommend you avail yourself of the opportunity. I nominated Laughton in the drama category, but between you and me, this is really a black comedy about divorce, beheadings, affairs, affairs of state, the sort of movie the studio promoted with the tagline "He gave his wives a pain in the neck—and did his necking with an axe!"

It made international stars of Laughton, Merle Oberon, Elsa Lanchester and Robert Donat, and director-producer Alexander Korda's name became synonymous with the finest in British filmmaking.

What the movie knows about history wouldn't fill out the back flap of Henry's biography, but what it knows about people would fill volumes. Korda and writer Lajos BirĂ³ basically threw the facts out the window and made up a very entertaining movie as they went along. It reminds me a bit of a book journalist Mark Shiper wrote thirty-plus years ago, Paperback Writer, a fictional history of the Beatles that includes such little-remembered facts as that their first album was named We're Gonna Change The Face Of Pop Music Forever and that the string-laden "Shake Your Booty" was one of their biggest hits.

If you're a history buff and want to know what Henry was up to with his six wives, look elsewhere. But if you're interested in history the way it should have been written, then this just might be your cup of Earl Grey.

Postscript: Remember to vote
for best original song of 1932-33 in the latest Monkey Poll. Your vote will actually decide who wins the award. Herself, a.k.a. Katie-Bar-The-Door, voted for "Isn't It Romantic" and warned ominously that if it doesn't pick up the pace, "There'll be no lovin' in Monkey Town tonight." But don't let my problems sway your thinking. Click here to watch and listen to your choices, then head on over to the right hand side of the page to cast your vote.

1 comment:

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Thanks for the Free Movie Pass -- she wouldn't take a Willie or a Sam (no Sam!)

I can't believe all these great movies missed it by that much!