7.2/10
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The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, History | 11 November 1939 (USA)
A depiction of the love/hate relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex.

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Writers:

(screen play), (screen play) (as Aeneas MacKenzie) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 5 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

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Mistress Margaret Radcliffe (as Nanette Fabares)
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Sir Edward Coke
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Storyline

This period drama frames the tumultuous affair between Queen Elizabeth I and the man who would be King of England, Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. Ever the victor on the battlefield, Devereux returns to London after defeating Spanish forces at Cadiz. Middle-aged Elizabeth, so attracted to the younger Devereux but fearful of his influence and popularity, sends him on a new mission: a doomed campaign to Ireland. When he and his troops return in defeat, Devereux demands to share the throne with the heir-less queen, and Elizabeth, at first, intends to marry. Ultimately sensing the marriage would prove disastrous for England, Elizabeth sets in motion a merciless plan to protect her people and preserve her throne. Written by IMDb Editors

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

queen | throne | earl | ireland | hug | See All (104) »

Taglines:

Elizabeth I's love for the Earl of Essex threatens to destroy her kingdom.


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

11 November 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Elizabeth and Essex  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,075,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Vitaphone)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was an adaptation of the play "Elizabeth the Queen" by Maxwell Anderson. The stage production opened at the Guild Theatre in New York on November 3, 1930 starring legendary married couple Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt. The play ran for 147 performances. The title of the movie was to be the same as the play, but Errol Flynn protested that he wanted his presence acknowledged in the title. The choice of "The Knight and the Lady" upset Bette Davis, and "Elizabeth and Essex" was a book title already copyrighted. "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" was chosen to fit in the motif of The Private Life of Henry VIII. (1933) and The Private Life of Don Juan (1934). For several years, from the time of Errol Flynn's death until the film was issued on videocassette and began to be shown on Turner Classic Movies, the title was changed to "Elizabeth the Queen", after which it was restored to "The Private Lives...". See more »

Goofs

The real Robert Cecil was small and had a curved spine, and was one of Queen Elizabeth's chief counselors, not the supercilious character portrayed in this film, or in Maxwell Anderson's original play. The queen would affectionately refer to him as "my dwarf". He is more accurately portrayed in the TV miniseries Elizabeth I. See more »

Quotes

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex: [after being slapped hard by Queen Elizabeth I] I would not have taken that from your father the King; much less will I take it from a king in petticoats!
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Soundtracks

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love (Come Live With Me and Be My Love)
(posthumous 1599) (uncredited)
:yrics by Christopher Marlowe
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Played on piano by Erich Wolfgang Korngold and sung by Nanette Fabray
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User Reviews

 
Like going home again
11 May 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I think the last time I saw this movie was probably over thirty years ago on the late-nite movie during Errol Flynn week. The local PBS station just showed it tonight and I was very impressed. I hardly knew who Bette Davis was back then, but now that I do know her, I was pleasantly surprised not to see her in this movie. Her Elizabeth was so unlike what I've come to expect from Davis that it was like seeing her for the first time.

Flynn, of course, is Flynn, and I refuse to say anything bad about a guy as handsome as him that wears thigh-high boots throughout the movie.

I thought the script was intelligent, the dialogue realistic, and the pacing pretty good. Yes, it flagged a couple of times, but never for more than a moment and the next scene picked it right up again. Except for de Haviland, the supporting cast doesn't have much to do and Vincent Price is more or less wasted. Those are minor quibbles, however, as overall the movie seems to have held up amazingly well.

I gave it a rating of 9 stars. It's not perfect, but it's very good, and Bette Davis is outstanding. And did I mention Flynn's boots?


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