A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS —TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon….


“With a little common sense, you could have made a statesman,” claims Orson Welles as Cardinal Wolsey as he redresses Paul Scofield as Sir Thomas More for opposing him during a council meeting.

And that simple phrase sums up the worldly view of a man who had a conscience and an “intolerable moral squint.”

Robert Bolt’s play of the same name was adapted for the screen by the playwright himself, and he made adjustments to the script by adding a few scenes crucial to the narrative once he removed the play’s narrator, the Common Man, a role Leo McKern originated on the stage both in London and New York. McKern was then employed as “Master Cromwell,” who replaced Wolsey after Wolsey couldn’t perform the task of resolving the matter of King Henry VIII’s divorce.

But the showcase role, which earned Paul Scofield an Academy Award, was not initially awarded to Scofield. Sir Richard Burton was first considered, but he turned them down flat with his Welsh pragmatism. Even Sir Laurence Olivier regarded the role as that of Scofield’s and eventually the powers that be, who felt Scofield not a well-known enough actor required to carry such a financial expenditure, acquiesced.

A Renaissance man, Sir Thomas More, was confident in his beliefs about God and man, and refused King Henry’s demands for More’s oath of allegiance to the Act of Succession:

“I (state you name) do utterly testifie and declare in my Conscience, that the Kings Highnesse is the onely Supreame Governour of this Realme, and all other his Highnesse Dominions and Countries, as well in all Spirituall or Ecclesiasticall things or causes, as Temporall: And that no forraine Prince, Person, Prelate, State or Potentate, hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction, Power, Superiorities, Preeminence or Authority Ecclesiasticall or Spirituall within this Realme. And therefore, I do utterly renounce and forsake all Jurisdictions, Powers, Superiorities, or Authorities; and do promise that from henchforth I shall beare faith and true Allegiance to the Kings Highnesse, his Heires and lawfull Successors: and to my power shall assist and defend all Jurisdictions, Priviledges, Preheminences and Authorities granted or belonging to the Kings Highnesse, his Heires and Successors or united and annexed to the Imperial Crowne of the Realme: so helpe me God: and by the Contents of this Booke.”

More’s defense at his trial included references to the Magna Carta, The Bible, and the King’s own Act of Supremacy in 1535.

Director Fred Zinneman and Actor Paul Scofield on the set of A Man For All Seasons..

Paul Scofield’s performance, both staid and erudite, passive at moments, and passionate at others, reveals how a man of conscience deals with power mongers of any century. Originating the stage role in Bolt’s play, A Man For All Seasons, his portrayal of More on the boards received acclaim on both sides of the pond.

Richard Rich, the ambitious backwater politician, is seen as the man instigating the conflict and downfall of More at the hands of Cromwell, and John Hurt’s first screen role as Rich, makes us feel his burning ambition, and that anyone who steps in his path, even a man as righteous as More, will be undone. Hurt’s moment of high perjury as Rich is the catalyst for Scofield’s most impassioned speech during A Man For All Seasons, and without Hurt’s grabbing and scratching for supremacy in the theatre of men as Richard Rich, More’s shock at Rich’s blatancy evolved to the passion and erudition of More’s final speech before Parliament.

Scofield received many acting awards and honors during his lifetime, but was very selective about his screen choices. His 1962 performance of King Lear on the British stage was voted the best stage performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company in a poll encompassing 400 years of performances, and voters included some of the greatest stage actors of our times.(Judi Dench’s Lady Macbeth came in second.) Scofield did not seek the limelight, or awards, but he did seek to find roles that were memorable and rewarding, and viewers of A Man For All Seasons are the recipients of Scofield’s nuanced performance and dedication to his craft.

A portrait of Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein The Younger commissioned in 1527…

A Man For All Seasons won six Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director (Fred Zinneman), Best Actor for Paul Scofield, Best Costume Design (Elizabeth Haffenden and Joan Bridge), Best Screenplay from another medium for Robert Bolt, and Best Cinematography (Ted Moore).

It’s on today on TCM! Check the schedule for local screenings: http://www.tcm.com/schedule/

Scofield’s biography: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0006890/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

A Man For All Seasons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Man_for_All_Seasons_(1966_film)

The Royal Shakespeare Poll: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1469918/Scofields-Lear-voted-the-greatest-Shakespeare-performance.html

More tropes about the play and film: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Theatre/AManForAllSeasons

The Trial of Sir Thomas More: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/more/more.html

A Facebook page and safe haven for all fans of A Man For All Seasons created by Sam Loomis: https://www.facebook.com/groups/267080256773209/


Part of the The 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon…

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TCM’s ULTIMATE FAN VIDEOS BY FILM TITLE

Wow! I am surprised by some of the films chosen, but delighted that there are so many wonderfully talented fans of Turner Classic Movies.

There are 104 entries in TCM’s Ultimate Fan Contest as of Monday evening, October 28, 2013, and several of the films have two videos already:
Gone With The Wind, Sabrina, All About Eve, Arsenic and Old Lace, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Quiet Man, Cool Hand Luke, and The Clown.

What is so refreshing is that Red Skelton’s The Clown has two, and obviously Skelton has not been forgotten for his contribution to film, eventhough he is probably more famous as a television star. Gone With the Wind is always popular, and Audrey Hepburn has two films listed, Sabrina, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
A Christmas Carol
The Adventures of Prince Achmed
A Hard Day’s Night
All About Eve (2)
Among The Living
An American in Paris
Arsenic and Old Lace (2)

Baron of Arizona
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Birds
Blue Velvet
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (2)
Brief Encounter
Bringing Up Baby
Bullitt

Casablanca
Charley’s Aunt
The Chase
Cinema Paradiso
The Clown (2)
Cool Hand Luke(2)
Count Three and Pray

Dodsworth

Father of the Bride
Frankenstein

Giant
Grand Hotel
The Great Waltz
The Great Ziegfield
Gone With The Wind (2)
Guys and Dolls

High and Low
The Hill
Hoodoo Ann
How Green Was My Valley
How To Marry A Millionaire
The House on Haunted Hill

If A Man Answers
I Love You Again
The Incredible Shrinking Man
Inherit the Wind
It Happened One Night
It’s A Wonderful Life

The Jazz Singer

Kings Go Forth

The Lady Eve

The Mad Miss Manton
The Major and The Minor
Manhattan Murder Mystery
Mary Poppins
Midnight
Mr. Blandings Builds Hi Dream House
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

1900
Never Give a Sucker an Even Break
Night of the Hunter
Night of the Living Dead
North By Northwest
Notorious

One Way Passage
Out of Sight

Peeping Tom
Phantom of the Opera (’43)
The Philadelphia Story
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Psycho

The Quiet Man (2)

Random Harvest
The Rat Race
Rebecca
Rio Bravo

Sabrina (2)
Senso
Shall We Dance?
Singin’ in the Rain
The Shop Around The Corner
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Stranger
Stella
Sunset Boulevard

The Third Man
The Three Musketeers
To Catch A Thief
To Have and Have Not
Top Hat
Trouble in Paradise
Two Lane Blacktop

Where The Sidewalk Ends
The Wrong Man
The Wings of Eagles
The Wizard of Oz
Withnail and I

Ziegfield Girl

Follow the link to the Official Site of the TCM ULTIMATE FAN CONTEST: http://fancontest.tcm.com/

Final Updates will be posted at the end of the contest!