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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Caught on Tape: Katherine Howard

I am starting a new signature series of posts called Caught on Tape. Each of these posts will feature a historical person (usually royalty, but not always) and some of the films or tv appearances they make. First up, Katherine Howard – the 5th wife of Henry VIII.

Katherine Howard has appeared in several films – most of these tend to be small roles. Many of these films also characterize her as a very sexual person (because we all know sex sells) and portray her in not the most flattering light. I haven’t seen any movies with Katherine featured, so I don’t have any personal experience, but if you have seen any of the below or have seen any other Katherine Howard features, please leave a comment. All of these can be found on Netflix if you are interested in seeing any of them. The films I selected below all feature Katherine in a more prominent role.

The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933)
“Charles Laughton makes the larger-than-life King Henry VIII seem even bigger in a stunning performance that centers on the ruler's romantic life. Acclaimed director Alexander Korda shows a mercurial king who is governed by love, lust and politics. The classic film traces Henry's six marriages, including the tragic story of Catherine Howard, and his disastrous fourth union with Anne of Cleves, played by Laughton's real-life wife, Elsa Lancaster.” (from Netflix)
Catherine Howard is played by Binnie Barnes. This is more of a comedy film with a wide interpretation of history.

Masterpiece Theatre – The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970)
“Starring Keith Michell in an Emmy-winning turn as King Henry VIII, this BBC historical drama recounts the lusty monarch's reign from 1509-47 -- and the sometimes-bloody splits from his unlucky wives. Assuming the throne of the House of Tudor as a strapping lad of 17, Henry inherits his brother's widow -- the first in a succession of six women he would marry before injury, illness and obesity led to his demise in 1547.” (from Netflix)
This is a 6 episode tv miniseries. There is one episode for each of his wives. There is an 89 minute episode featuring Katherine. She also appears in the episode on Anne of Cleves. Katherine is played by Angela Pleasence.
“A sexually promiscuous, cruel and vain teen, Catherine Howard shamelessly flirts with the king and helps nurse him back to health. Henry marries her, but
when he learns Catherine is cheating on him, the repercussions are deadly“ (from Netflix)

Henry VIII (2003)
“Wedded bliss didn't come easily to England's most infamous serial husband, Henry VIII. Desperate for a male heir, Henry (Ray Winstone) married then tossed aside a succession of wives that included Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn (Helena Bonham-Carter), Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard (Emily Blunt) and finally Katherine Parr. Sexual intrigue and twisted rivalry were the hallmarks of Henry's reign. First aired on British television.” (from Netflix)
This is a two part tv miniseries. Emily Blunt plays Katherine Howard in this film – everything I have seen her in, she is wonderful, so I would guess that she might be decent as Katherine. This appears to be another, not-quite-historical film and more like a television soap.

The Tudors (2009)

Season 3 Episode 8 (and will appear again in Season 4)
“Henry moves swiftly to annul his loveless marriage to Anne of Cleves, and beds a new mistress, 17-year-old Katherine Howard (Tamzin Merchant); Princess Mary falls in love with Duke Philip of Bavaria; Cromwell's fall from favour is sudden and dramatic. The season ends with Cromwell's beheading, and 'Your Majesty' being called by Katherine Howard.” (from Wikipedia)
I haven’t seen this episode yet, but in the vein of the Tudors, I am sure it is a sexualized story.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Oh, I love this!
    What fun and such a clever idea!

  2. I have seen two of these. The first being The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). I did not really care for the movie, but Catherine Howard's character was actually quite likable in this version.

    The second one is from The Tudors (2009). Lets just say that I was will be very happy when she meets her fate on this show.

    Love this new segment of your blog!

  3. I've seen the 2003 movie and the actress is really pretty... I thought she was good for the role, though I didn't like the Henry very much.

  4. what a great idea. Yep, seen them all...and I have made others suffer through them too.

  5. Great post! Now I have to go find the movies on Netflix although I did see the 1933 version a log time ago, I think out of all the actors to play Henry, Charles Laughton was the best. I think he also played the ghost of Henry VIII in a comedy that takes place during WWII..

    Love this idea!!

  6. Great post Heather! I have seen the 1970 BBC version a couple of times. She was portrayed very well in this version. I have seen The Tudor's version as well. That one wasn't so good because the age difference in the actors was not so incredible.

  7. Great idea for a new series of posts!

  8. Wonderful post, Heather! I really enjoyed watching all those. Although I have to say the Tudors one confirmed my decision to stay well away from this series!

    I think I have seen the 1970 one on video many years ago. Would like to see the 1933 film also and also Emily Blunt as Catherine - I agree with you that she is an excellent actress. I enjoyed Anne of a Thousand Days but of course that doesn't feature Catherine! Glad you chose to spotlight her first as she is one of my favourite queens. I think she is judged overly harshly.

  9. I really liked Ray Winstone as Henry.


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