After Anne's execution, Henry (played by Charles Laughton), is married briefly to Queen Jane before her death in childbed eighteen months later. He is then remarried to a German princess, Anne of Cleves, played on-screen by Laughton's real-life wife Elsa Lanchester. This marriage ends in divorce when Anne deliberately makes herself unattractive so that she can be free to re-marry her sweetheart. After this divorce, Henry marries the beautiful and ambitious Lady Catherine Howard (Binnie Barnes). She has rejected love all her life in favour of ambition, but after her marriage she falls in love with Henry's handsome servant Thomas Culpeper (Robert Donat). Their adultery is never mentioned by name in the film, since American censors objected to it. In any case, their liaison is discovered by Henry's advisers and the couple are executed. Henry's final marriage to Catherine Parr receives less than five minutes of screentime.
Historically, the film is wildly inaccurate - with the possible exception of the Anne Boleyn storyline at the beginning. Its presentation of the characters of Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard in particular are not true to fact. Nor does it portray Henry's first (and longest) marriage to the Spanish princess, Catherine of Aragon. It is famous for creating the public image of a jolly Henry VIII who gorged himself at public banquets and chased pretty women all day, which has tended to obscure the king's real-life brutality.
Yunxiang Yan. Private Life Under Socialism: Love, Intimacy, and Family Change in a Chinese Village, 1949-1999.(Book review)
Sep 22, 2005; Yunxiang Yan. Private Life under Socialism: Love, Intimacy, and Family Change in a Chinese Village 1949-1999. Stanford: Stanford...