“It’s 1183 and we’re barbarians!” proclaims Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn), and she’s got a point. The infighting between aging Henry II (Peter O’Toole), his jailed queen, and jealous sons vying for the crown (Anthony Hopkins, John Castle, Nigel Terry) is some of the ugliest — and most twisted — I’ve ever seen.

Based on a play by James Goldman, the dialogue reaches levels of viciousness usually reserved for Edward Albee, with many more quotable lines than you can digest on first viewing and acting that should never have lost an Oscar to Oliver! or Charly. Like The Ice Harvest, this movie belongs on our list of Top Ten Christmas Movies for Cynics. With Timothy Dalton as King Philip of France.

The Lion in Winter. Anthony Harvey, 1968. ****