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Mary of Scotland (1936)

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Reviews: 21 user | 14 critic

The recently widowed Mary Stuart returns to Scotland to reclaim her throne but is opposed by her half-brother and her own Scottish lords.


, (uncredited)


(screen play), (from the play by), 1 more credit »
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Title: Mary of Scotland (1936)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Florence Eldridge ...
Douglas Walton ...
Robert Barrat ...
Gavin Muir ...
Ian Keith ...
Moroni Olsen ...
William Stack ...
Ralph Forbes ...
Frieda Inescort ...
Mary Beaton
David Torrence ...


Mary Stuart returns to Scotland to rule as queen, to the chagrin of Elizabeth I of England who finds her a dangerous rival. There is much ado over whom Mary shall marry; to her later regret, she picks effete Lord Darnley over the strong but unpopular Earl of Bothwell. A palace coup leads to civil war and house arrest for Mary; she escapes and flees to England, where a worse fate awaits her. Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

queen | scotland | england | throne | secretary | See more »


One of the greatest love stories of all time... brought to the screen in throbbing glory by a wonderful cast of stars! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 August 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mary, Queen of Scotland  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System) (as R C A Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


John Carradine completed his role as 'David Rizzio' on March 21 1936. See more »


When the messenger brings Moray the news of Mary, the lighting changes markedly from the close-up to the master shot. See more »


Moray: I have only followed my conscience.
Mary, Queen of Scots: I hope you have one.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits: "Like two fateful stars, Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor appeared in the sixteenth century, to reign over two great nations in the making ... They were doomed to a life-and-death struggle for supremacy, a lurid struggle that still shines across the pages of history ... But today, after more than three centuries, they sleep side by side, at peace, in Westminster Abbey." See more »


Version of The Heart of a Queen (1940) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

I liked this a lot more than I expected
10 May 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I write this at the time they are celebrating Katherine Hepburn's 100th Birthday with an onslaught of many of her very early films on a popular channel that deals with Classic Movies. As I have never seen these, I have to say that I am actually very impressed, entertained, even irritated by her.

There was something about Katherine Hepburn. She had Sharp Edges, or did she? Like Brando, she does not act, she behaves. But in her case unlike Brando who just seemed to be "born with it," it has been shown that Hepburn developed her talent by sheer force of will: Which she imposes on you, like it or not, in the entire body of her work.

Of all of those early films from the 30's- Maybe I did not enjoy this as much as some of the others from that time, but I was forced to stand up and give notice. This was certainly an appropriate role for her, and magnificently portrayed. As she would drawl... "How Marvelous!" Now to get down to the specifics of this film starting with the ironies: Frederick March portrays The 4th Earl of Bothwell, James Hepburn. I wonder if this was an ancestor? However, there were no living offspring between Bothwell and Mary Stuart.

I have not researched all of the events this film was based upon, some historical accounts obviously paint Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart in various lights. Florence Eldridge is an excellent Elizabeth - Almost as good as Bette Davis' version but not so much over the top as Davis. March's portrayal of the person named Bothwell in the film... The impression is given that he would have used the flat of his blade to spank Douglas Walton/Lord Darnley, who plays the role of Henry Stuart/Lord Darnley in a very effeminate manner. John Carradine is superb... Even his coarse singing, and the manner of his demise in the film is fairly similar to what historically occurred. I also have to point out that David Carradine did not inherit John's singing voice (Refer to the film, "Bound for Glory" There is greatness, is that small part of David Rizzio: A future Black Hat in development, and one of the best, as seen in John Ford's "Stagecoach" Which brings us to Alan Mowbray, as a very slimy Throckmorton, Ambassador to Scotland/Puppet and stooge to Elizabeth. Excellent: The Perennial bad guy. Moroni Olsen as a very Rasputin-ish John Knox, very Lionel Barrymore-ish, emitting a malevolent evil, and I will not go into how much like Television Evangelists of s certain stripe he is like: Not all of them, but some of them. And just about every character actor in Hollywood had a role in this film, which in typical Ford style, is Epic.

And of course finally we have to acknowledge Donald Crisp as Lord Huntley, a very brief role, and not quite accurately portrayed: Mary actually joined with the Earl of Moray to destroy the man in real life. The way it sets on film, does not explain Mary's lack of support in the last part of her life: But it seems she upset the Catholic Church quite a bit. I want to say this this part was slightly miscast... I do not see one of the future owners of Lassie as a Scottish "Laird" However complicated the story of Mary Stuart is, this film tries to deal with some of the convolutions of that life. Bothwell actually did rot away in Denmark, and Darnley, if not shown directly to have an illness in the film, does indeed deteriorate- And also is shown "Playing King" a couple of times and the real Darnley was known to do.

It has been said that John Ford did not consider that this was the kind of movie he was used to making, and maybe handed over the directing of some of the scenes to Hepburn: In fact in one documentary Hepburn admits that Ford walked out of the studio and let her direct the scene with March in the Tower.

All of these items being case or not, this is still a great film, and an important film, with great acting. It has to be considered that the 1930's were the Hollywood in it's infancy- Or at least adolescence. Many kinds of stories were made into film, some done justice and some not.

Even if this particular story of Mary, Queen of Scots is not being told correctly, and of course in this film there was the Hollywood-isation of the story: I would say that the real life and Reign of Mary Stuart is one of the most interesting historical topics and itself reads like a James Michener book, and as a platform for Katherine Hepburn to display her multiple talents, suits her well indeed.

9 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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