“The necessities of a queen must transcend those of a woman.”
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (Bette Davis), Sir Walter Raleigh (Vincent Price) and Sir Robert Cecil (Henry Daniell) are determined to separate the aging queen from her young lover — the Earl of Essex (Errol Flynn) — by sending him to battle in Ireland, and enlisting the help of jealous Lady Gray (Olivia de Havilland) in intercepting his letters to Davis. When Flynn returns and demands joint power with the queen, their romance becomes more tenuous than ever.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Alan Hale Films
- Bette Davis Films
- Donald Crisp Films
- Errol Flynn Films
- Henry Daniell Films
- Historical Drama
- Michael Curtiz Films
- Olivia de Havilland Films
- Play Adaptation
- Royalty and Nobility
- Star-Crossed Lovers
- Strong Females
- Vincent Price Films
Michael Curtiz directed this adaptation of Maxwell Anderson’s play Elizabeth the Queen, originally starring Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt as the star-crossed regal lovers. The basic theme of this historical romance is that it’s lonely at the top: poor Queen Elizabeth can’t afford to truly trust anyone, even the man she’s clearly happiest and most relaxed with. Davis and Flynn have fine romantic rapport, and turn in first-rate performances; they’re a suitable match for one another. Meanwhile, the entire production — including the inspired art direction (by Anton Grot), vibrant Technicolor cinematography (by Sol Polito), majestic score (by Erich Wolfgang Korngold), and ornate costumes (by Orry-Kelly) — is lushly mounted, so that even the relatively stage-bound feel of the film doesn’t detract from the inherent drama of the story.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Bette Davis as Queen Elizabeth I
- Errol Flynn as the Earl of Essex
- Vibrant cinematography and sets
- Orry-Kelly’s regal costumes
- Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s majestic score
Yes, for the lead performances and overall production values.