March 20, 2008

"Do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?"

The actor Paul Scofield has died (at age 86).

Here's the lawyer's favorite scene from "A Man for All Seasons":



ADDED: Actually, I've never seen "A Man for All Seasons." I was around in 1966 and went to a few movies in those days, but that wasn't one. It might have interested me back then. It must have played around campus in the years went I was in college (1969-1973). In those years, we went to see every movie we had any interest in, because we never knew when we'd get another chance and assumed it would only be on TV with commercials messing it up. But "A Man for All Seasons" was the exactly kind of movie we shunned and scoffed at then.

38 comments:

Bob said...

Arthur Clarke, Paul Scofield. If these things really do occur in threes, who's to be third?

Bob said...
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Bob said...

Interesting to think of More's attitude to law in this clip, and think of the current miniseries John Adams, in which Adams defends the British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre, risking his reputation in the progress. More and Adams would have understood one another well, I think.

Ann Althouse said...

Anthony Minghella.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm quite sure that Adams scene was modeled on the famous "Man for All Seasons" scene.

Bob said...

And the movie is well worth your time, even now, Ann. Robert Shaw is a gorgeously handsome Henry VIII.

Did you know that Chancellors named Thomas in UK have an almost 100% mortality when the King is named Henry? Thomas Beckett, Thomas Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell.

George said...

I am sorry, Bob, but I must dissent...the perfect hairdos, the impeccable clothing (luv that colossal gold necklace!), the incredibly well-lit and clean room.

Zounds!

Reminds me of those '60s TV westerns like "Bonanza" where every frontier hovel has linoleum floors.

At least in "John Adams" you could smell the stench.

I don't think I've seen another movie where a Founding Father digs in a pig sty!

joe said...

I am surprised you did not see the movie then, it was a high school field trip for us. See it now. Well worth it.

Mark Daniels said...

'A Man for All Seasons' is a film I've watched repeatedly in recent years. I adore it.

Scofield's performances in it and elsewhere were incredible. Richard Burton claimed that of the eight greatest moments in theater, Scofield was part of eight of them.

Mark Daniels

bwebster said...

I'm not sure I've ever seen the film all the way through, though I've seen at least one stage production (in college, some 30 years ago). And, of course, there are historical issues about how More himself treated heretics (e.g., by burning them).

But the play itself is brilliant. I have a well-worn copy that I have read on multiple occasions over the past decades, and the scene you posted is my favorite scene. The true genius here is Robert Bolt, the playwright. ..bruce..

Melinda said...

It was on TCM recently.

That's my favorite scene, too.

The Drill SGT said...

excellent movie,

good scene.

My favs however are the trial:

"Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to lose his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?"

and the execution:

"I am commanded by the King to be brief, and since I am the King's obedient subject, brief I will be. I die His Majesty's good servant, but God's first."

classic stuff. Timeless. worth an evening

Trooper York said...
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Bob said...

Trooper York: Hey pal don't diss Bonanza, it was my favorite show. How can you claim that a show with a 40 year old father living with his three 30year old sons was unrealistic? What are you a communist? Jeeeez.

In an interview on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Michael Landon was asked about the lack of women on Bonanza: "Were the Cartwrights gay? No, but luckily Hop Sing was..."

Trooper York said...
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Middle Class Guy said...

"Reminds me of those '60s TV westerns like "Bonanza" where every frontier hovel has linoleum floors."


It was not linoleum, it was patterned oil cloth, which was a popular floor covering back in the day. Only a real communist and Ilsamist would diss a western, especially Bonanza. Next it will be Gunsmoke or Maverick.

Trooper York said...
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Ann Althouse said...

Isn't the mud smeared on everything in John Adams a present-day affectation?

Bob said...

And funnily enough, one of the scenes in A Man For All Seasons is about Henry's trip to More's riverside house, with Henry tromping through the mud when the boat carrying him grounds in the shallows, then pointing out his muddy boots...

Trooper York said...
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Middle Class Guy said...

There was also the Bounty Hunter, the Virginian, and Wyatt Earp. What this country needs is a good Western TV show on prime time.

Saloons, card games, painted ladies, horses, guns, and the good guys always prevail.

ak said...

AMFAS was shown on TV regularly when I was a kid. Even at that age, I loved it. I've since read that it's actually very popular with kids--or was in its day.

I just liked Paul Scofield's calm, rich voice, Wendy Hiller's bustling about, Robert Shaw tramping through the mud and laughing about it. And all those words, ardently spoken.

I don't have speakers on this computer, so I can't watch the clip. But I'm guessing it's the scene where More says this: "And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?" How that jolted my little mind.

Trooper York said...
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former law student said...

What this country needs is a good Western TV show on prime time.

Bring back Maverick.

I think we saw both Beckett and A Man for All Seasons, which left both men forever muddled in my mind.

ricpic said...

Could any ordinary sweating scratching human being really relate to Scofield?

Richard Fagin said...

Prof. Althouse, why did you shun movies like A Man For All Seasons when you were in college?

I was required to watch that movie by a high school history teacher when it was on Masterpiece Theater. I liked it even then.

Middle Class Guy said...

The Rifleman written and directed by Sam Peckinpaugh with more action and entertainment packed into a half hour then two hours of Law and Order/CSI Meat Inspector.

And about three times a year show in its entirety the Wild Bunch. A Peckinpaugh classic. More people died in the first ten minutes than any movie made up to today. William Holden and Ernie Borgnine.

Chas S. Clifton said...

I saw "A Man for All Seasons" as a teenager, and it moved me profoundly.

To this day, I have a folk-art "retablo" of St. Thomas More hanging in my office. He is, I am told, the patron saint of civil servants -- and I'm a college professor, but that is close enough.

Chas S. Clifton said...

I saw "A Man for All Seasons" as a teenager, and it moved me profoundly.

To this day, I have a folk-art "retablo" of St. Thomas More hanging in my office. He is, I am told, the patron saint of civil servants -- and I'm a college professor, but that is close enough.

Ann Althouse said...

Richard Fagin said..."Prof. Althouse, why did you shun movies like A Man For All Seasons when you were in college? I was required to watch that movie by a high school history teacher when it was on Masterpiece Theater. I liked it even then."

It was seen as completely square and old-fashioned. We liked Bergman and Truffaut and Fellini, for example. And stuff hippies liked, like the Marx Brothers.

Middle Class Guy said...

AA...
And stuff hippies liked, like the Marx Brothers.

Remember Fritz the Kat?

LutherM said...

I watch that scene, and, for some reason, remember another quote by a Protestant Minister;
"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me."

blake said...

Back in the days of Beta vs. VHS, I tried to impress my girl (or at least momentarily entertain her) with great movies she hadn't seen. One of those was A Man for all Seasons.

But when we put it in the player it just didn't seem quite right. It was...okay. Not great. Kind of cheap. Charlton Heston wasn't very good.

Wait, Charlton Heston? WTF?

Recently, we watched the right version with Paul Scofield. So, all is forgiven.

Made the same damn mistake with The Cabinet of Caligari. (Correct version here.)

Trooper York said...
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Joe said...

I watched A Man For All Seasons in history class in high school (on a very early VHS machine no less). I liked it then, so it was with some interest that I tried watching it again this past fall. Tried is the operative word. It was over-the-top, scenery chewing boredom. My God, was it boring. And More came off as so self-righteous, I would have cut off his head.

blake said...

TY,

I was fine with it until Owen Wilson changed the speech around a bit. "I'm Charles Foster Kane, you know, so that's very hurtful, losing a childhood sled. I didn't like it. It made me feel alone. So, maybe I lashed out a bit--but who wouldn't have in those circumstances?"

Mr. Forward said...

"Robert Altman has made a dozen films that can be called great in one way or another, but one of them is perfect, and that one is "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" (1971)."

Roger Ebert 1999

wister said...

What an extraordinarily unpleasant little sneer at one of the great artists of the British theatre. If you don't know anything about him I would have thought it better to leave his death unremarked. He was a remarkable man and a great actor. Yes, he created Thomas More in Man For All Seasons; he also created Salieri in Amadeus; he was Lear in Peter Brooks's celebrated production; and much more. Some at least of your posters know that Man For All Seasons is a play by Robert Bolt. The film is a fairly thin facsimile of the real thing. And no, seeing a college production doesn't count.