The Lion in Winter (1968) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Lion in Winter1968

The Lion in Winter (1968)



Critic Consensus: Sharper and wittier than your average period piece, The Lion in Winter is a tale of palace intrigue bolstered by fantastic performances from Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn, and Anthony Hopkins in his big-screen debut.

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Movie Info

The most royal of the cycle of '60s films dealing with the history and castle intrigues of medieval England, Anthony Harvey's The Lion in Winter returns in a new 4K restoration by Studiocanal. At Christmas Court in 1183 King Henry II argues with his estranged wife, Eleanor, over whether Prince John or Richard shall inherit the throne. Complicating matters, King Philip II of France seeks his own fortune by demanding his sister Alais, currently Henry's mistress, be betrothed to Richard, all the while stirring insurrection among all of Henry's sons toward their father.

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Katharine Hepburn
as Eleanor Of Aquitaine
Peter O'Toole
as Henry II
John Castle
as Geoffrey
Timothy Dalton
as King Philip of France
Nigel Stock
as William Marshall
O.Z. Whitehead
as Bishop of Durham
Kenneth Griffith
as Strolling Player
Kenneth Ives
as Eleanor's Guard
Henry Woolf
as Strolling Player
Henry Wolff
as Strolling Player
Karol Hagar
as Strolling Player
Mark Griffith
as Strolling Player
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Critic Reviews for The Lion in Winter

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (11)

All that's ever mattered about The Lion in Winter are Hepburn and O'Toole, and the pleasure we take from watching two masters inspire each other to greatness. Scenery chewing has rarely been so artful.

December 12, 2016 | Full Review…

[A] humdinger of medieval powerplay.

October 7, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Henry and Eleanor are reduced to a TV-sized version of the sovereigns next door, their epic struggle shrunk to sitcom squabbles.

July 14, 2014 | Full Review…
Top Critic

James Goldman's screenplay, so chic and sophisticated to the ears of suburbanites, is chock-full of the worst kind of sophomoric fiddling with what Goldman takes to be genuine highfalutin lingo.

July 14, 2014 | Full Review…

An intense, fierce, personal drama put across by outstanding performances of Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

Director Anthony Harvey opened up Goldman's play into authentic spaces far from any proscenium, and remained faithful to an energetic drama propelled by its performances and dialogue.

December 21, 2007
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Lion in Winter


wonderful war of words among masters.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer


King Henry II invites his estranged wife and three children to celebrate Christmas with his mistress, and the three sons vie for the throne. Only slightly better than the remake, this classic film, for which Katharine Hepburn won the Best Actress Oscar, is more fast-paced and sharply executed. Writer James Goldman's sharp wit, including such lines as "Quiet, darling, Mummy's fighting" and "If I was on fire, no one would pee on me to put me out" "Let's strike a flint and see," becomes clearer when put in the hands of such technically savvy actors are Hepburn, Peter O'Toole, and Anthony Hopkins. But as with the remake, I struggled to understand what the backbone of this film is beyond family melodrama. There were a few moments when, looking at Hepburn's world-weary, tear-stained face, I thought that it was bemoaning the ravages of age, and indeed, this is the best that I can come up with, but I can't understand how this theme interacts with the political plot. Overall, like the Stewart/Close version, Lion in Winter is fun to watch, and even though I hate Hepburn normally, I found her performance compelling here.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Riveting. Dialogue of razor-sharp wit, layers of motives and intimate revalations, and captivating performances. Can't find a modern movie with dialogue this smart.

Matthew Slaven
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

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