**½/**** Image A- Sound B+ Extras B-
starring Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern, Robert Shaw, Paul Scofield
screenplay by Robert Bolt, based on his play
directed by Fred Zinnemann
by Travis Mackenzie Hoover Assessing A Man for All Seasons is no easy task. In its favour is the fact that it's quite sensitively directed: Fred Zinnemann lays on a level of melancholy largely unheard-of in the costume-movie sweepstakes, making the film plenty more affecting than the twilight-of-Old-Hollywood clunker it could very well have become. Alas, Robert Bolt's screenplay (and presumably his stage play) is resolutely impervious to directorial manipulation--and also completely full of crap. Bolt's hilariously over-the-top deification of Thomas More (Paul Scofield) and More's opposition to the divorce of Henry VIII (Robert Shaw) is so emptied of contemporary meaning that you can project anything you like onto it. Such care has been taken to shift the discussion away from political matters and towards "personal ethics" that an atheist like me can groove to More's rigid refusal to indulge Henry's transgression over God's law.