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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A screen caption introduces a setting as "Holyrood Castle". Properly this building, now the monarch's official residence in Scotland, is known as the Palace of Holyroodhouse sometimes shortened to Holyroodhouse or Holyrood, but never as Holyrood Castle. See more »
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 »
Seems John Ford was really more of an outdoorsman, this movie is ghastly. It looks like a von Sternberg movie for Marlene Dietrich with its claustrophobic sets but without von Sternberg's ability to compose beautiful shots or create a layered mis-en-scene. Even worse the sounds is ghastly, every speech echoes off the walls, the worst sound in a movie that I can recall except maybe "Rebecca" which also suffers from terrible sound. This may be a mercy as most of the actors come in and out of a Scottish brogue that would offend even Groundskeeper Willy.
Poor Katherine Hepburn seems to have no idea what she is doing, or who she is playing. Ford must have been more comfortable directing men or perhaps he didn't give a damn. At least she doesn't try a Scotch accent, which is historically correct as Mary was raised in France, and if I recall correctly did not speak English when she arrived in Scotland, the country she left at age 5.
Even funnier is the portrayal of Elizabeth I who remarks seriously "Ya know what it's like to be born illegitamate? Ta have royal blood in ya veins?" of course Elizabeth I was not illegitimate except in the eyes of Catholics. Supposedly Ginger Rogers wanted to play Elizabeth and it's hard to imagine she would have been any worse. If RKO denied her the part it must have been for non-artistic reasons. Ah well, there is a reason Hepburn (and Dietrich) were labeled box-office poison around that time. Both came back though Hepburn with "The Philadelphia Story" and Dietrich with "Destry Rides Again."
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