Fire Over England (1937)

Fire Over England (1937)

“I have seen blacker fears turn to hopes. Hope on, until you know there is none.”

A loyal supporter (Laurence Olivier) of Queen Elizabeth I (Flora Robson) — happily engaged to one of her ladies-in-waiting (Vivien Leigh) — agrees to replace a killed agent (James Mason) as a spy in the courts of King Philip of Spain (Raymond Massey) to learn more about the impending Armada invasion.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Flora Robson Films
  • Historical Drama
  • James Mason Films
  • Laurence Olivier Films
  • Mistaken or Hidden Identities
  • Raymond Massey Films
  • Royalty and Nobility
  • Spies
  • Vivien Leigh Films

This Alexandar Korda-produced historical drama is best known as the film that first brought Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier together, both on-screen and in real-life as lovers.

It’s a nicely mounted film, grounded by a strong performance by Flora Robson as Queen Elizabeth, but otherwise simply straightforward, highly fictionalized fare that will be of most interest to fans of the genre (or of “Viv and Larry”). James Wong Howe’s cinematography is a plus, as are Queen Elizabeth’s over-the-top costumes by Rene Hubert. Be sure to check out the review below for an extensive overview of how this public domain title was painstakingly restored.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Flora Robson as Queen Elizabeth
  • James Wong Howe’s cinematography

  • Fine sets and costumes

Must See?
No; skip this one unless you’re curious (though it is beautifully restored).


One thought on “Fire Over England (1937)

  1. Agreed; not must-see. I had seen this once before. What the assessment above says is more or less accurate: it’s nicely mounted and photographed (good work by dependable Wong Howe).

    It does play a little stiff and without much life at times so it’s a bit on the dull side – but it’s earnest.

    Massey and Robson come off best, though Leslie Banks gives fine support as Elizabeth’s ‘Robin’.

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