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The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 3,276 users  
Reviews: 57 user | 25 critic

A depiction of the love/hate relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex.

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(screen play), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

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

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Nominated for 5 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Earl of Tyrone
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Henry Stephenson ...
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James Stephenson ...
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Mistress Margaret Radcliffe (as Nanette Fabares)
Ralph Forbes ...
Robert Warwick ...
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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

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:

Language:

Release Date:

11 November 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Elizabeth and Essex  »

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

Charles Laughton, whom Bette Davis greatly admired, visited her on the set. Seeing him she greeted him with, "Hi, Pop!" referencing his Oscar-winning portrayal Elizabeth's father in The Private Life of Henry VIII. (1933). While talking together in a corner of the set, the thirty-one year old actress confessed to him that she felt she had bitten off more than she could chew in playing an older Elizabeth. According to the Davis biography 'Fasten Your Seat Belts', he replied, "Never stop daring to hang yourself, Bette!" See more »

Goofs

The movie depicts Lord Burleigh being alive at the time of Essex's insurrection in 1601 however, Burleigh died in 1598. See more »

Quotes

Queen Elizabeth I: And when he takes you in his arms again, thank heaven you are not a queen.
Mistress Margaret Radcliffe: But I thought to be a queen...
Queen Elizabeth I: To be a Queen is to be less than human, to put pride before desire, to search Men's hearts for tenderness, and find only ambition. To cry out in the dark for one unselfish voice, to hear only the dry rustle of papers of state. To turn to one's beloved with stars for eyes and have him see behind me only the shadow of the executioner's block. A queen has no hour for love, time presses, and ...
See more »

Connections

Featured in Between Two Worlds: Erich Wolfgang Korngold (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love (Come Live With Me and Be My Love)
(posthumous 1599) (uncredited)
Written by Christopher Marlowe
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Played on piano by Erich Wolfgang Korngold and sung by Nanette Fabray
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Queen Bette
28 April 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

The main interest in this 1939 film is the great performance by Bette Davis. It was a role she was born to play. Her input on the film makes it work in unexpected ways. Under the direction of Michael Curtiz, the stage play, by Maxwell Anderson, gets a great Technicolor production. The adaptation by Norman Reilly Raine and Aeneas McKenzie, works well.

The main thing is not to look for real history in this movie. We are given a fictionalized account of what Mr. Anderson thought was drama, taking dramatic license along the way. With all that into account, the film rewards the viewers splendidly.

Errol Flynn was cast as Robert Devereux for his good looks, no doubt. He offers such a contrast against the aging Elizabeth, that one wonders what could have attracted these two souls into a love both felt for one another. Mr. Flynn is not as effective here as in some of his other vehicles, where he reigned supreme. In this movie, he is totally outfoxed by a cunning Bette Davis. Both stars brought their own chemistry to the roles and it's curious that after all the years since it was released, the film still fascinates.

Olivia de Havilland plays a minor role of Penelope. It's curious seeing her in some frames with Errol Flynn, her partner in many movies where they played lovers to better effect. The supporting cast is excellent. Donald Crisp, Alan Hale, Vincent Price, Henry Stephenson, Nanette Fabray and Herny Daniell, among others, support the two stars well.

Ultimately this was one of the best films Bette Davis graced with her appearance. The film remains one of her signature creations. This Elizabeth offered her a role in which she could portray one of the strongest women in history. Ms. Davis outshines others whenever they are seen in scenes together.

Long live this queen! Long live Queen Bette!


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