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The Private Life of Henry VIII. (1933)

Director: Alexander Korda Cinematographer: Georges Périnal

Having had difficulties working with American companies in both Hollywood and the UK, Hungarian filmmaker Alexander Korda audaciously started his own company, London films. The gamble paid off with his international breakthrough film, The Private Life of Henry VIII. Starring Charles Laughton, the costume drama focuses on the reign and particularly the marriages of the notorious King Henry VIII of England. While, Laughton’s fat, lecherous and crude king is certainly lacking in historical accuracy, the performance brought him an Academy Award for Best Actor and became the most recognisable image of Henry in popular culture. The first non-Hollywood film to win at the Oscars, it marked the beginnings of huge success for Korda in the British film industry and allowed him to build the UK’s largest studio at Denham.

Buy or Rent (watch online)
Eclipse Series 16: Alexander Korda’s Private Lives (The Private Life of Henry VIII / The Rise of Catherine the Great / The Private Life of Don Juan / Rembrandt) (The Criterion Collection) DVD
Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) / Captain Kidd (1945) DVD
Classic Movie Double Bill: Abraham Lincoln and The Private Life of Henry VIII (DVD)



  • Charles Laughton as Henry VIII
  • Merle Oberon as Anne Boleyn
  • Wendy Barrie as Jane Seymour
  • Elsa Lanchester as Anne of Cleves
  • Binnie Barnes as Catherine Howard
  • Everley Gregg as Catherine Parr
  • Robert Donat as Thomas Culpeper
  • Franklin Dyall as Thomas Cromwell
  • Miles Mander as Wriothesley
  • Laurence Hanray as Archbishop Thomas Cranmer
  • William Austin as The Duke of Cleves
  • John Loder as Thomas Peynell
  • Lady Tree as The King’s Nurse
  • John Turnbull as Hans Holbein
  • Frederick Culley as Duke of Norfolk
  • William Heughan as Kingston
  • Judy Kelly as Lady Rochford
  • Hay Petrie as The King’s Barber
  • Wally Patch as Butcher
  • Arthur Howard as Kitchen Helper
  • Annie Esmond as Cook’s Wife
  • Claude Allister as Cornell
  • Gibb McLaughlin as The French Executioner
  • Sam Livesey as The English Executioner

Directed by Alexander Korda
Produced by Alexander Korda, Ludvico Toeplitz
Screenplay by Lajos Bíró, Arthur Wimperis
Music by Kurt Schröder
Cinematography Georges Périnal
Edited by Stephen Harrison
Running time 97 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Telegraph’s 75 best British films ever made (2019)

A list of the 75 best British films from The Telegraph newspaper. It’s listed on the paper’s website as published in February 2019 but appears to have been around some years before that, with the newest film listed having been released in 2013. The choices are listed in chronological order.

The Private Life of Henry VIII. (1933)
The 39 Steps (1935)
Sabotage (1936)
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
Gaslight (1940)
That Hamilton Woman (1941)
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
Brief Encounter (1945)
I Know Where I’m Going! (1945)
Great Expectations (1946)
A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
Black Narcissus (1947)
The Red Shoes (1948)
Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949)
The Third Man (1949)
The Dam Busters (1955)
The Ladykillers (1955)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Night of the Demon (1957)
Dracula (1958)
Peeping Tom (1960)
The Innocents (1961)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)
This Sporting Life (1963)
From Russia with Love (1963)
Zulu (1964)
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
The Ipcress File (1965)
Accident (1967)
Far from the Madding Crowd (1967)
If…. (1968)
Witchfinder General (1968)
Kes (1969)
Performance (1970)
Get Carter (1971)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)

The Devils (1971)
Bill Douglas Trilogy (1972-8)
Don’t Look Now (1973)
Barry Lyndon (1975)
Pressure (1976)
Life of Brian (1979)
Radio On (1979)
The Long Good Friday (1980)
Gregory’s Girl (1980)
Chariots of Fire (1981)
The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982)
Withnail & I (1987)
Howards End (1992)
Orlando (1992)
The Remains of the Day (1993)
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Trainspotting (1996)
Secrets & Lies (1996)
The Full Monty (1997)
Gallivant (1996)
The Wings of the Dove (1997)
Topsy-Turvy (1999)
A Room for Romeo Brass (1999)
Ratcatcher (1999)
The House of Mirth (2000)
Gosford Park (2001)
Black Sun (2005)
Deep Water (2006)
Unrelated (2007)
Sleep Furiously (2008)
Hunger (2008)
Fish Tank (2009)
Weekend (2011)
Kill List (2011)
Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
The Selfish Giant (2013)
Under the Skin (2013)