John Gielgud received his first Oscar nomination for portraying King Louis VII of France in Becket.
Gielgud is always absolutely at ease with these sort of authority roles, which is quite necessary for the part since the film requires that Louis establishes himself as a King all in a single scene. Gielgud must have the Kingly presence right from the first moment because he is gone in the next. Gielgud though is a master of these sorts of character and has all of the qualities realized from his first scene. From the moment you see him you not only know he is the king, but also a strong willed King, just from the the way Gielgud looks and stands.
When he talks Gielgud only furthers his characterization of a jovial, quick witted King, who also always seems to be in charge of his affairs. Gielgud has the right command of his single scene, and does take over the scene as needed. In his one scene he is charming, he is funny, and he shows the experience of Louis when it comes to manners involving Henry, through his fairly casual manner he helps Becket undermine Henry as well as he is able to.
It is a great single scene performance that is perfectly placed within the film. His other scene really does not have much to it he just quickly brings Becket to meet Henry, although again Gielgud shows the strength and the intelligence of Louis. Gielgud certainly is not on screen for long, but he still leaves a nice impression after he has left the screen. Louis could easily have been a forgettable character, with a forgettable performance behind him, but Gielgud does his best to make the most of his relatively minor character.