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A partly fictionalized account of history begins with the arrival of slatternly Emma Hart, a cook's daughter, at the home of Charles Greville. Greville takes her as his lover and grooms her until their relationship becomes an inconvenience. Greville then dupes Emma into traveling to Naples to live with his uncle, Lord Hamilton, ambassador to the court at Naples. Realizing that Greville has abandoned her, Emma agrees to marry Lord Hamilton. Soon, however, she meets Admiral Horatio Nelson of the British Navy. Emma plays a crucial role in convincing Naples to open its ports to Nelson during his campaign against Napoleon's French fleet. Soon, Emma and the married Nelson become romantically involved -- a relationship which will have consequences for them both. Written by
Shannon Patrick Sullivan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I give it 8 rather than 9 because of Griffith's acting when falling in love; her romantic feelings, as opposed to her ambassadress motives which were allied with her patriotism, seemed to spring from nothing. Varconi did all the wooing, and before you know it, whammo, a full blown affair. Griffith was more effective in portraying a girl's enthrallment with her first lover, Keith; I could believe that she trusted too deeply in his motives. Speaking of Keith, he gave an excellent performance of a man attracted to his servant's charms but hypocritical about so much more of her personality; he disgusted me, but in a good way.
But getting back to the action, the naval battles astounded and I was on the edge of my seat, dodging those cannonballs. The role of the Queen and her interaction with Griffith was unique, I thought, because of the power dynamics balancing the Queen's power with the King's and Griffith's part in the whole shebang. Someone whose real life is completely ready for filming is William Hamilton, here in this film an aged cuckold but actually a vulcanologist and man of science. I would enjoy a film depicting his life very much, showing his happy first marriage and dealings with the political structures of the era. Also good to see would be his menage-a-trois with his wife and Nelson in their small home, prior to Trafalgar. So all in all, this was a good Sunday's silent movie for TCM and I'm pleased to have seen it, with the lovely costumes and other production values, too. Then there's that rose over Griffith's lips when Nelson makes his move ...
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