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
Elizabeth I's love for the Earl of Essex threatens to destroy her kingdom.
Did You Know?
When MGM signed Alfred Lunt
and Lynn Fontanne
to a movie contract in 1931, they bought the rights to "Elizabeth the Queen" as well as two of the Lunts' other stage successes, "The Guardsman" and "Reunion in Vienna." After the Lunts' first film together, The Guardsman
(1931), flopped at the box office, MGM canceled the Lunts' contract, made Reunion in Vienna
(1933) with other actors (John Barrymore
, Lionel Barrymore
and Diana Wynyard
), and put "Elizabeth the Queen" on hold until they later sold the rights to Warner Brothers. But a sequence of the Lunts playing the final scene from "Elizabeth the Queen" appears at the start of "The Guardsman" in a play-within-a-film context. See more
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
Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex
And now, may I go? This dying sticks in my mind and makes me poor company.
Lyrics by Walter Raleigh
Sung by Olivia de Havilland
(dubbed by Faith Kruger
Lute playing dubbed by an anonymous lutist See more