Warning: wikipedia contains spoilers
The plot is based on the true story of Sir Thomas More, the 16th-century Chancellor of England, who refuses to endorse or denounce the king's wish to divorce his aging wife so that he can marry his mistress. The King is Henry VIII of England and his wife is Catherine of Aragon, the first of an eventual six.
The play ignores some of More's less attractive features, notably his religious extremism, to portray him as a man of principle, envied by rivals such as Thomas Cromwell and loved by the common people and by his family. The portrait of Henry VIII is also relatively sympathetic.
Paul Scofield, who played the leading role in the West End, reprised it on Broadway in 1962, winning a Tony Award, and played More again in the first of two film versions (1966), winning an Academy Award in the process. The film also stars Robert Shaw as Henry VIII, Orson Welles as Wolsey, a young John Hurt as More's nemesis Richard Rich, and an older Wendy Hiller as More's second wife. It was directed by Fred Zinnemann. The film won Academy Awards for actor, screenplay, cinematography, costume design, directing, and film.
The 1988 remake stars Charlton Heston (who also directed it) as More, Vanessa Redgrave (who appeared briefly in the 1966 version as Anne Boleyn) as More's wife, and Sir John Gielgud as Cardinal Wolsey.