This film seemed a bit random to me, following two musicals. But looking into the culture of the 1960s shed light on the potential inspiration behind this selection. The ’60s were all about turning away from the ’50s and taking a stand against the establishment, exposing any and all questionable actions committed by those in spiritual/legal/cultural authority. Sir Thomas More was a 16th Century poster boy for 1960s USA.
A Man For All Seasons is another of my dad’s favorite films. I think he identifies with More’s unwillingness to back down from his moral conviction–an honorable trademark characteristic of my father, and a subject I find somewhat indefinite in my own life. Thomas More stood up to England’s King Henry VIII, refusing to bless the king’s decision to divorce his wife Catherine in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Like most silly British kings depicted in film, Henry was furious that he was made a fool in front of his subjects and finally had More beheaded on grounds of treason, claiming that More denied the king as head of the church. The testimony that cost More his head was most likely fabricated, martyring More for the cause of greater truth and ensuring his canonization as patron saint of politics.
Honestly, I was rather bored by the film. (sorry, Dad!) And after riding the wave of colorful song and dance routines for a decade, A Man For All Seasonswas like the abrupt belly flop after a careless free fall. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. It wasn’t a bad movie. It simply marked a sharp turn in the nature of film preference in mid-20th Century USA… a turn I wasn’t ready to take.