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W.S. Van Dyke
Queen Elizabeth is running this show. The men in her court should be thinking about how to add to the glory of the Elizabethan Age and how to foil those pesky Spanish who got far too much influence in England when her older sister Mary was on the throne after their father Henry VIII was succeeded by their sickly half brother. Elizabeth thinks Michael Ingolby can do great things. Michael is mostly thinking about one of Elizabeth's ladies in waiting, Cynthia. Soon his mind is on survival when Elizabeth sends him on a voyage to Spain. Written by
Dale O'Connor <email@example.com>
Flora Robson is Magnificent; Good Fictional Story of Elizabeth I's Realm
This is a dramatic B/W film made just before WWII was begun by Adolf Hitler. The British Empire-based filmmakers draw a distinction between the theocratic Spanish Empire of Philip II, ably played by Raymond Massey, and the somewhat parliamentary government of England's island under the Protestant governance of Tudor Queen Elizabeth I, portrayed by Flora Robson with yet-unmatched power and skill. The distinction is important; although the misuse of their powers by neo-imperial-U.S. and post-Empire British governments have lessened our perception of the difference between the two regimes, that difference is in fact real and cleverly presented. The vehicle for the storyline was a novel by A.E. W. Mason. Clemence Dane's screenplay follows the adventure of young Michael, agent of the Queen, as he tries to uncover the nature and extent of a Spanish spy-ring operating in England. This requires him to pretend to be one of them and present himself to Philip; but his pretense fails for lack of a missing password. He is imprisoned in Spain, falls half in love with a lovely Spanish girl, daughter of his jailer, although he really loves one of Elizabeth's ladies-in-waiting; but she allows him to escape when she sees what Philip's evil is doing to her country's people, and he hastes back to the court in time to uncover the plot and save Elizabeth. Elizabeth then give her famous speech that rallies the English to defeat the Spanish Armada and save England, to become another empire and finally in our century a country again. The plot is fairly well-done, but the beauty of the film lies in its characters and dialogue and the way these are brought to life by an excellent cast. Laurence Olivier is Michael, Vivien Leigh is the girl he loves, Leslie Banks is the Earl of Leicester, Morton Selten is Lord Burleigh ;and Robert Newton heads the villains with Tamara Desni as the Spanish girl, plus many other fine British stage actors. The music was composed by Richard Addinsell, William K. Howard directed, cinematography was by the legendary James Wong Howe and camera-work by Wilkie Cooper. This is not a great film, but the restored B/W version is beautiful; the characters memorable, the villains intelligently unethical and some of the actors, especially Robson, superb. This is also a very good film about the era of Elizabeth and the meaning of tyranny--and what honorable men need to risk to avoid having its shadow fall over their lives; and what one group of men in the late 1580s dared to do.
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