Murder in the Cathedral (1951 film)

Murder in the Cathedral is a 1951 British drama film directed and produced by George Hoellering and co-written by Hoellering and T. S. Eliot based on Eliot's 1935 verse drama of the same name and starring Father John Groser.

Murder in the Cathedral
Directed byGeorge Hoellering
Screenplay by
Based onMurder in the Cathedral
by T. S. Eliot
Produced byGeorge Hoellering
StarringFather John Groser
CinematographyDavid Kosky
Edited byAnne Allnatt
Music byLászló Lajtha
Distributed byFilm Traders Ltd
Release date
  • 1951 (1951) (Venice)
  • March 1952 (1952-03) (United Kingdom)
Running time
  • Original release:
  • 146 minutes[1]
  • 2015 re-release:
  • 114 minutes[2]
CountryUnited Kingdom

The film competed at the 12th Venice International Film Festival and received the award for Best Production Design, given to Peter Pendrey.[3] It was released in the United Kingdom in 1952.[4]


Archbishop Thomas Becket (Father John Groser) deals with his temptations before his murder in the Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.



Murder in the Cathedral premiered at the 12th Venice International Film Festival in 1951 before being theatrically released by Film Traders Ltd in the United Kingdom in March 1952 and in the United States by Classic Pictures on 25 March 1952.[5]


Bosley Crowther wrote in The New York Times:

Whatever literary merits T. S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral may have and whatever strange dramatic virtues it may possess in performance on a stage, it is obvious that this stylized verse drama is not felicitous material for the screen. ...

There are flashes of stark pictorial beauty in some of the somber scenes of prelates and noblemen and worshippers gathered in the Archbishop's Hall of Canterbury Cathedral, where the entire action of the play takes place. And some nods toward cinema dynamics are more or less effectively made in not too imaginative cutting for dramatic emphasis and flow.

But, for the most part, Mr. Eliot's cold recounting of Becket's defiance of the King and his murder by helmeted assassins for insisting upon the Church's authority is conveyed in lengthy orations by individuals and choral groups, photographed in static poses and solemnly massed attitudes. ...

Fortunately, the spoken words have richness as they flow off the cultivated tongues of handsomely costumed performers who, at least, look their medieval roles. Father John Groser, an English cleric, is grandly dignified and benign as the conscientious Archbishop who coolly calculates his martyrdom and Alexander Gauge is forceful as King Henry in a scene especially written for the film.[6]


  1. ^ "MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL (U)". British Board of Film Classification. 29 January 1952. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  2. ^ "MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 8 December 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  3. ^ Lancia, Enrico (1998). I premi del cinema (in Italian). Gremese Editore. p. 304. ISBN 9788877422217.
  4. ^ "Murder in the Cathedral (1952)". Explore Film & TV. British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 10 August 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  5. ^ "Murder in the Cathedral (1951) - Release Info". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  6. ^ Crowther, Bosley (26 March 1952). "The Screen in Review; Eliot's 'Murder in the Cathedral,' British-Made Film, Shown at Trans-Lux 60th St". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 September 2014.

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