Cromwell (1970) - Rotten Tomatoes


Cromwell (1970)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Cromwell has one of the most cockeyed points of view of any historical epic ever made. The audience is supposed to be pulling for 17th-century Protestant leader Oliver Cromwell, who out of religious fervency declares civil war against the weak-willed British monarch Charles I when the latter threatens to reinstate Catholic rule in England. But as played by Richard Harris, Cromwell comes off like a single-issue fanatic, slightly less sympathetic than your average talk-show wacko. As for Alec Guinness' King Charles, he is a weakling to be sure, but is so essentially human (even when pulling a few fast ones in the climactic negotiations with Cromwell) that the audience is rooting for him to come out on top. Perhaps this ambiguity was deliberate, underlining the basic fact that in a religious war, it is a tricky proposition to choose sides. Still, Cromwell might have been easier to take had not the title character been drawn in such broad strokes.

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Alec Guinness
as Charles I
Robert Morley
as Earl of Manchester
Dorothy Tutin
as Queen Henrietta Maria
Frank Finlay
as John Carter
Timothy Dalton
as Prince Rupert
Patrick Wymark
as Earl of Strafford
Patrick Magee
as Hugh Peters
Nigel Stock
as Sir Edward Hyde
Charles Gray
as The Earl of Essex
Michael Jayston
as Henry Ireton
Richard Cornish
as Oliver Cromwell II
Anna Cropper
as Ruth Carter
Jack Gwillim
as General Byron
Patrick Holt
as Capt. Lundsford
Stratford Johns
as President Bradshaw
Geoffrey Keen
as John Pym
Anthony May
as Richard Cromwell
John Paul
as Gen. Digby
Robin Stewart
as Prince of Wales
Andre Van Gyseghem
as Archbishop Riniuccini
Zena Walker
as Mrs. Cromwell
Douglas Wilmer
as Thomas Fairfax
Anthony Kemp
as Henry Cromwell
Stacy Dorning
as Mary Cromwell
Melinda Churcher
as Bridget Cromwell
Josephine Gillick
as Elizabeth Cromwell
Patrick O'Connell
as John Lilburne
Ian McCulloch
as John Hampden
John Welsh
as Bishop Juxon
Bryan Pringle
as Trooper Hawkins
George Merritt
as Old Man William
Michael Goodliffe
as Solicitor General
Llewellyn Rees
as The Speaker
Adreevan Gysegham
as Archbishop Rinucinni
Gerald Rowland
as Drummer Boy
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Critic Reviews for Cromwell

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (1)

Richard Harris, as Cromwell, schleps around the kingdom reciting epigrams and looking distracted. He doesn't inhabit the role or even seem to care much about it.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Whatever deserved abuse it received upon its release, it's brisk enough, the grandeur and scale hold up and the cast has just enough heft to carry it off.

August 7, 2020 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

The script [has] bitten off a more complex slice of history than it can hope to chew.

July 18, 2018 | Full Review…

An impressive cast of Brit thespians yelling dialogue in that declamatory manner that clues you in on the fact that this is important stuff.

May 12, 2010 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Cromwell is an excellent historical spectacle movie, the kind of lavishly mounted picture that film observers keep saying are gone forever because of the high costs of making them.

November 20, 2003 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Cromwell

A great film made greater by the two leads.

Marcus Woolcott
Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer

Aided by a very good cast, "Cromwell" is a lavish if mostly simplistic spectacle about the conflict between Parliament led by Oliver Cromwell(Richard Harris) and King Charles I(Alec Guinness) that starts in 1640 as England is facing an invasion from Scotland and Cromwell is about to immigrate to America with his family and fellow Puritans. However, the cause of defending farmers from the king's interests intercedes and Cromwell and his allies work tirelessly in Parliament in an escalating fight that leads to civil war. What works best in "Cromwell" is the contrast between Charles and Cromwell which is expressed perfectly in a great debate about whether ordinary men are capable of extraordinary things. Cromwell takes one side of this argument as he fights for a more just society but loses himself along the way, eventually becoming a tyrant as much as the one he eliminates. On the other hand, the subject of religion is skirted over as is Cromwell's brutal stint in Ireland.(Gore Vidal once wrote that the Puritans left England not because they were persecuted but because they were persecuting everyone else.) The movie's one critical error is in arguing that a country requires a strong head of state to succeed. Just don't knock anarchy if you haven't tried it.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Crowmell tells the story of the man who was the driving force behind the English civil war and the father of English democracy. Oliver Cromwell is played with great intensity by Richard Harris as an honourable and incorruptible man who stuck by his principles despite the burden of his conscience; the fact that he was also a bigoted religious zealot, bullying imperialist and war criminal are all conveniently glossed over. But it would be in a film called "Cromwell", wouldn't it. Alec Guiness juggles the arrogance and inflexibility of Charles I and his refusal to relinquish absolute power even though his life depended upon it, with his more human side as a loving father. It also has some (for the time at least) epic battle sequences but it is very stagy, and may not quicken the pulses of those without an interest in politics and history. A well made and well acted historical drama that resembles an illustrated (albeit not entirely accurate) history lesson rather than Braveheart-like popular entertainment.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

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