THE LION IN WINTER
1968, Rialto Pictures, 134 min, UK/USA, Dir: Anthony Harvey

At Christmas court in 1183, King Henry II (Peter O’Toole) argues with his estranged wife, Eleanor (Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn) over whether Prince John (Nigel Terry) or Richard the Lionheart (Anthony Hopkins in his film debut) shall inherit the throne. Complicating matters is King Philip II of France (Timothy Dalton, also his debut) who seeks his own fortune by demanding his half-sister Alais (Jane Merrow), currently Henry’s mistress, be betrothed to Richard. The most royal of the cycle of '60s films dealing with the history and palace intrigues of medieval England.


NIXON
1995, Buena Vista Pictures, 192 min, USA, Dir: Oliver Stone

This ambitious biopic of our 37th president earned four Oscar nominations, including nods for Anthony Hopkins’ performance in the title role and Joan Allen’s supporting work as wife Pat Nixon. A nuanced portrait of Richard Nixon from his days as a young boy to his downfall in the aftermath of the Watergate break-in, the film underlines how lonely and treacherous the halls of power can become. With James Woods, Ed Harris and Paul Sorvino.


THE ELEPHANT MAN
1980, Paramount, 124 min, Dir: David Lynch

Based on two books about the real-life Elephant Man, John Merrick, director David Lynch recounts this severely deformed man’s perilous life in Victorian England in breathtaking black-and-white. Sir Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) rescues Merrick from a circus freak show where he is assumed to be retarded, takes him to a hospital for tests and discovers that Merrick, in fact, has great intellect and capacity for emotion. John Hurt’s ability to project Merrick’s humanity earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination, along with the film’s seven other nominations including Best Picture and Best Director. Lynch’s use of costumes, makeup, Freddie Francis’ cinematography and John Morris’ score remain commendably understated, allowing the sadness of the film to avoid sentimentalism. With Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller. "ELEPHANT MAN has the power and some of the dream logic of a silent film, yet there are also wrenching, pulsating sounds -the hissing steam and the pounding of the start of the industrial age. It's Dickensian London, with perhaps a glimpse of the process that gave rise to Cubism." - Pauline Kael.


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