Synopsis: Debauched King Henry II installs his longtime court facilitator Thomas Becket as the Archbishop of Canterbury, assuming that his old friend will be a compliant and loyal lackey in the King's ongoing battles with the church. But Becket unexpectedly finds his true calling on the ecclesiastical side, and aligns himself against the king's selfish wishes, causing a rift and an eventual showdown not only between the two men, but also the institutions they represent.
Director(s): Peter Glenville
Production: Slowhand Releasing
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 23 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
148 min

(men singing in Latin)

(bell ringing)

(chanting in Latin)

Well, Thomas Becket,

are you satisfied?

Here I am stripped,

kneeling at your tomb

while those treacherous Saxon monks

of yours are getting ready to thrash me.

Me, with my delicate skin.

I bet you'd never have done

the same for me.

But I suppose I have to do this penance

and make my peace with you.


What a strange end to our story.

How cold it was when we last met

on the shores of France.

Funny, it's nearly always been cold,

except at the beginning

when we were friends.

We did have a few

fine summer evenings with the girls.

Did you love Gwendolen, Archbishop?

Did you hate me

the night I took her from you,

shouting, "I am the king"?

Perhaps that's what

you could never forgive me for.

Look at them lurking there,


Oh, Thomas,

I'm ashamed of this

whole silly masquerade.

All right, so I've come here to

make my peace with their Saxon hero,

because I need them now,

those Saxon peasants of yours.

Now I'll call them my sons,

as you wanted me to.

You taught me that, too.

You taught me everything.

Those were the happy times.

Do you remember?

At the peep of dawn,

and as usual we'd been drinking

and wenching in the town.

You were even better at that

than I was.

(man and woman laughing)


(laughter continues)


- (gasps)

- Shh. Listen.

- Huh?

- Upstairs.

(laughter continues)

- She's up with someone.

- Well, go on up.

(laughter continues)

- Shh.

- (laughter continues)



- Get up, man, get on up there!

- Quick, out through the window.

Thank you.

(woman gasps)

Oh. Ah. Ooh.

Come on now.

Come on.

Come on.

Come here.

I'll lay my hands on her, the dirty slut.

Where is he, the swine?

You don't - Don't you dare,

don't you dare - (sobbing)

- Here. Catch.

- Ha! Ho! Hyah! Ah!

- (laughing)

- Go on, get in there.

- (both grunting)

- Here. Take my boot.

I can't get my boot back on.

- Faster now.

- (laughing)


Whoo! Whoo!


Oh, Rub harder, pig. I'm cold.

Ah, no one does it the way you do,


- Thank you.

- I think you actually like the cold.

I made you a nobleman.

Why do you play at being my valet?

I'm your servant in the council chamber,

or here in the bath.

My Norman barons resent it. They feel it's

your Saxon way of mocking their nobility.

Nobility lies in the man, my prince,

not in the towel.

Have you any idea how much trouble

I took to make you noble?

I think so. I recall you pointed a finger

and said, "Thomas Becket, you are noble."

The queen and your mother

became very agitated.


They're always agitated.

No, I mean trouble from the barons.

They hate you, you know?

Of course. One always hates

what one wrongs.

When you Normans invaded England,

you seized our Saxon land,

burned our Saxon homes,

raped our Saxon sisters.

Naturally, you hate Saxons.

Don't include me.

It was my great grandfather William

who was called "The Conqueror."

- I'm an old resident.

- I did not mean you.

Didn't you? You know,

when I took you into my service,

everyone predicted

you'd put a knife in my back.

- And did you believe them?

- No.

I assured them that you were

a man of honor... and a collaborator.

That was accurate of you.

- How do you combine the two?

- My Lord?

Honor and collaboration.

I don't try. I love good living,

and good living is Norman.

I love life, and the Saxons'

only birthright is to be slaughtered.

One collaborates to live.

And honor?

Honor is a concern of the living.

One can't very well be concerned

about it once one's dead.

You're too clever for me, Thomas.

But I know there's something

not quite right about your reasoning.

Honor is a private matter within.

It's an idea, and every man

has his own version of it.

How gracefully you tell your king

to mind his own business.

Time for the council meeting, My Lord.


Will My Lord dine with me tonight?

- On gold plates?

- Always.

I am your king, and I eat off silver.

Your expenses are heavy.

I have only my pleasure to pay for.

Tonight you can do me the honor

of christening my forks.

- Forks?

- Yes, from Florence.

New little invention. It's for pronging

meat and carrying it to the mouth.

- It saves you dirtying your fingers.

- Well, then you dirty the fork.

- Yes, but it's washable.

- So are your fingers. I don't see the point.

It hasn't any, practically speaking, but

it's refined, it's subtle, it's very un-Norman.

You must order me some.

For my barons.

I have enough forks to go around.

Bring the gentlemen with you tonight.

I shall.

We won't tell them what they're for.

They'll probably think

they're a new kind of dagger.

(both laughing)

All right, gentlemen,

the council is open.

Gentlemen, I've called you here to

find out why a simple request for taxes

- causes such unpriestly caterwauling.

- My Lord...

We must come to an understanding

about who rules this kingdom, the church -

- My Lord, I wish to ask you -

- Just a moment, Archbishop.

The church or me.

There are many troublesome issues

between us which call for a reckoning.

Amongst other abuses

is the claim you make

of judging your clergy

accused of civil crimes

in your own ecclesiastical courts.

I warn you, there can be

only one justice in this country,

and that is the king's.

But before we quarrel,

here is some happy news.

Rate this script:5.0 / 1 vote

Edward Anhalt

Edward Anhalt (March 28, 1914 in New York City – September 3, 2000 in Pacific Palisades, California) was a noted screenwriter, producer, and documentary film-maker. After working as a journalist and documentary filmmaker for Pathé and CBS-TV he teamed with his wife Edna Anhalt during World War II to write pulp fiction. (Edna was one of his five wives.) more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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