Murder in the Cathedral (1952)

Diana Maddox, John Groser, Alexander Gauge
George Hoellering
George Hoellering’s powerful adaptation of TS Eliot's classic verse drama is a stark and highly atypical example of British historical cinema. Little-seen despite winning a top prize at the Venice Film Festival, the film recounts - entirely in verse - the clash between King Henry II and Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, over the limits of church authority. As Becket finds his resolve tested by four ‘tempters’ (the last of which is voice by an unseen Eliot), the film takes on a mystical atmosphere reminiscent of the great religious cinema of Carl Th. Dreyer and Ingmar Bergman. (BW)