Cromwell

1970

Cromwell

Critics Consensus

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33%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 6

69%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,629
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Movie Info

Cromwell has one of the most cockeyed points of view of any historical epic ever made. The audience is supposed to be pulling for 17th-century Protestant leader Oliver Cromwell, who out of religious fervency declares civil war against the weak-willed British monarch Charles I when the latter threatens to reinstate Catholic rule in England. But as played by Richard Harris, Cromwell comes off like a single-issue fanatic, slightly less sympathetic than your average talk-show wacko. As for Alec Guinness' King Charles, he is a weakling to be sure, but is so essentially human (even when pulling a few fast ones in the climactic negotiations with Cromwell) that the audience is rooting for him to come out on top. Perhaps this ambiguity was deliberate, underlining the basic fact that in a religious war, it is a tricky proposition to choose sides. Still, Cromwell might have been easier to take had not the title character been drawn in such broad strokes.

Cast

Alec Guinness
as Charles I
Robert Morley
as Earl of Manchester
Dorothy Tutin
as Queen Henrietta Maria
Frank Finlay
as John Carter
Timothy Dalton
as Prince Rupert
Patrick Wymark
as Earl of Strafford
Patrick Magee
as Hugh Peters
Nigel Stock
as Sir Edward Hyde
Charles Gray
as The Earl of Essex
Michael Jayston
as Henry Ireton
Richard Cornish
as Oliver Cromwell II
Anna Cropper
as Ruth Carter
Jack Gwillim
as General Byron
Patrick Holt
as Capt. Lundsford
Stratford Johns
as President Bradshaw
Geoffrey Keen
as John Pym
Anthony May
as Richard Cromwell
John Paul
as Gen. Digby
Robin Stewart
as Prince of Wales
Andre Van Gyseghem
as Archbishop Riniuccini
Zena Walker
as Mrs. Cromwell
Douglas Wilmer
as Thomas Fairfax
Anthony Kemp
as Henry Cromwell
Stacy Dorning
as Mary Cromwell
Melinda Churcher
as Bridget Cromwell
Josephine Gillick
as Elizabeth Cromwell
Patrick O'Connell
as John Lilburne
Ian McCulloch
as John Hampden
John Welsh
as Bishop Juxon
Bryan Pringle
as Trooper Hawkins
George Merritt
as Old Man William
Michael Goodliffe
as Solicitor General
Llewellyn Rees
as The Speaker
Adreevan Gysegham
as Archbishop Rinucinni
Gerald Rowland
as Drummer Boy
View All

Critic Reviews for Cromwell

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (2) | Rotten (4)

Audience Reviews for Cromwell

  • Jan 20, 2016
    A great film made greater by the two leads.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 07, 2009
    Aided by a very good cast, "Cromwell" is a lavish if mostly simplistic spectacle about the conflict between Parliament led by Oliver Cromwell(Richard Harris) and King Charles I(Alec Guinness) that starts in 1640 as England is facing an invasion from Scotland and Cromwell is about to immigrate to America with his family and fellow Puritans. However, the cause of defending farmers from the king's interests intercedes and Cromwell and his allies work tirelessly in Parliament in an escalating fight that leads to civil war. What works best in "Cromwell" is the contrast between Charles and Cromwell which is expressed perfectly in a great debate about whether ordinary men are capable of extraordinary things. Cromwell takes one side of this argument as he fights for a more just society but loses himself along the way, eventually becoming a tyrant as much as the one he eliminates. On the other hand, the subject of religion is skirted over as is Cromwell's brutal stint in Ireland.(Gore Vidal once wrote that the Puritans left England not because they were persecuted but because they were persecuting everyone else.) The movie's one critical error is in arguing that a country requires a strong head of state to succeed. Just don't knock anarchy if you haven't tried it.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 13, 2008
    <i>"It's an odd thing, Mr. Ireton. Every man who wages war believes God is on his side. I'll warrant God should often wonder who is on his."</i><br/><br/> <b>Director:</b> Ken Hughes <b>Starring:</b> Richard Harris, Alec Guinness, Robert Morley, Dorothy Tutin <b>Running time:</b> 139 minutes <b>Country:</b> UK<br/><br/> I had high expectations for this film because it stars two great and late actors who were both very talented but what I was mostly disappointed with in this film was that I don't think the acting from the actors were brilliant. It is good when it comes to action but when it comes to the story it feels sort of rushed. When the English Civil War ends it feels really rushed from then until the end. The Civil War ended about 1 hour 30 minutes and it had less than 40 minutes to try and write up and film the rest of the story with 2 hours 15 minutes duration. Well, that is what I think about it anyway. The costumes, art direction and cinematography were the best thing about this film apart from that is was pretty crap.<br/><br/> I wasn't that keen on neither Richard Harris as Oliver Cromwell nor Alec Guinness as King Charles I because neither actor made Charles or Cromwell very believable like they were history and lived 400 years ago. Richard Harris was better than Alec Guinness but neither actor gave me that feeling where there was any proper emotion involved within the characters like that really was England 400 years ago.<br/><br/> Ken Hughes' direction wasn't brilliant to be honest because it wasn't as believable as I was anticipating. The epic action scenes in the English Civil War didn't really help it very much. I wasn't that fond of the script neither because it was more like a made-up story rather than historical England. I am disappointed with saying that but it is true though.<br/><br/> This film won the Oscar for Best Costume Design and was nominated for Best Music Original Score but lost to Love Story. It was nominated for Best Music Original Score at the Golden Globes but lost to Love Story. Overall, Cromwell is a film that I found really disappointing. Alec Guinness was a legendary actor and his portrayal of King Charles I is at the moment his most disappointing. The late Richard Harris wasn't bad and wasn't good either but he was better. It is a film that is <b>extremely</b> underrated but should be considered for its technical design rather than its acting, directing and producing.
    Samuel J Super Reviewer
  • Dec 16, 2007
    Caught this at the weekend. One of those big historical films that Britain used to make. Harris is excellent and really gets his teeth into the role. Great to see him acting in a 'class' project (sadly he will mostly be remembered by most young people now as an old wizard!). Guiness is also brilliant as Charles and in fact the film suffers once his character is executed. Yes the film is overlong and is probably not historically accurate but they don't make them like this anymore. Shame.
    David S Super Reviewer

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