Another heavyweight historical religious drama triumphs at the Golden Globes in 1965: Becket, following The Cardinal the previous year (and Ben-Hur and Spartacus before that). There was undoubtedly something in the air in those years, a yearning for big period pieces infused with solemn tones and ideas. And there was Peter O'Toole at the top of his fame and success: this year he'd win another Globe for Best Actor, after Lawrence of Arabia two years prior. Richard Burton was also nominated in the Best Actor category. Becket received two Golden Globes out of five nominations. The film went on to gather the near record number of 12 nominations at the Oscars, winning only one (for best script), a (negative) record as well.
Director Peter Glenville was nominated for a Globe, but lost to George Cukor for My Fair Lady (the big winner that year on the comedy/musical side). The Golden Globe Award ceremony was held on February 8, 1965, at the Ambassador Hotel.
Becket was adapted from the French play of the same title (it debuted in Paris in 1959). It is centered on King Henry II of England (O'Toole) and his relationship with his close friend and confidant Thomas Becket (Burton), who, installed by the King as the Archbishop of Canterbury, turns against his royal friend in his ongoing battles with the church, bringing the two to an inevitable showdown. In the international ensemble cast, John Gielgud plays King Louis VII of France, while the great Italian thespians Gino Cervi and Paolo Stoppa play Cardinal Zambelli and Pope Alexander III respectively. The film originally opened as a roadshow theatrical release, shown in major US cities and around the world for a limited time before its nationwide release, a practice mostly ended by the early 1970s. Becket is depicted as Henry's loyal "drinking pal", and O'Toole and Burton made funny references to this during the Globe Award ceremony.
Becket was filmed entirely in England in various locations and at the Shepperton Studios. Restored prints of Becket were re-released in 30 cinemas in the US in early 2007, following an extensive restoration from the film's YCM separation protection masters and a Dolby Digital soundtrack.
The play Becket opened on Broadway in 1960 with Laurence Olivier as Becket and Anthony Quinn as King Henry II in a production directed by the same Peter Glenville. Peter O'Toole went on to play King Henry II once more in The Lion in Winter (1968).