(1964)4Michael BetzoldIn 1964, Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton were the two biggest British film acting stars, and they were paired in an historical epic about the friendship between King Henry II (O'TOOLE) and Thomas à Becket (Burton). The film, directed flawlessly if staidly by Peter Glenville, was based on a bitterly sardonic stage play by Jean Anouilh. The movie is less edgy and features much talk and little action, even though its bloody climax was already well-known from history. Burton and O'TOOLE are great sparring partners, displaying tremendous acting talent. They and John Gielgud, who played French king Louis VII, were Oscar-nominated but didn't win; screenwriter Edward Anhalt won an Oscar for adapting the play. Becket emblematizes the serious, stagey historical dramas of the 1950s and 1960s. Glenville's short directing career would end a few years later.