7.2/10
4,036
62 user 25 critic

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.

Director:

Writers:

(screen play), (screen play) (as Aeneas MacKenzie) | 1 more credit »
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 5 Oscars. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Sir Walter Raleigh overcomes court intrigue to win favor with the Queen in order to get financing for a proposed voyage to the New World.

Director: Henry Koster
Stars: Bette Davis, Richard Todd, Joan Collins
The Sisters (1938)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Three daughters of a small town pharmacist undergo trials and tribulations in their problematic marriages between 1904 and 1908.

Director: Anatole Litvak
Stars: Errol Flynn, Bette Davis, Anita Louise
The Old Maid (1939)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The arrival of an ex-lover on a young woman's wedding day sets in motion a chain of events which will alter her and her cousin's lives forever.

Director: Edmund Goulding
Stars: Bette Davis, Miriam Hopkins, George Brent
Dodge City (1939)
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A Texas cattle agent witnesses first hand, the brutal lawlessness of Dodge City and takes the job of sheriff to clean the town up.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Ann Sheridan
The Sea Hawk (1940)
Action | Adventure | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Geoffrey Thorpe, a buccaneer, is hired by Queen Elizabeth I to nag the Spanish Armada. The Armada is waiting for the attack on England and Thorpe surprises them with attacks on their galleons where he shows his skills on the sword.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Brenda Marshall, Claude Rains
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An actor of the stage finds himself pursued by a lovestruck fan while trying to patch up a tempestuous relationship with his actress lover.

Director: Archie Mayo
Stars: Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A woman reporter tries to prove she's just as good as any man, but runs into trouble along the way.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Bette Davis, George Brent, Roscoe Karns
Action | Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A major countermands orders and attacks to avenge a previous massacre of men, women, and children.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Patric Knowles
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Popular and beautiful Fanny Trellis is forced into a loveless marriage with an older man, Jewish banker Job Skeffington, in order to save her beloved brother Trippy from an embezzlement charge, and predictable complications result.

Director: Vincent Sherman
Stars: Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

When lovely and virtuous governess Henriette Deluzy comes to educate the children of the debonair Duc de Praslin, a royal subject to King Louis-Philippe and the husband of the volatile and ... See full summary »

Director: Anatole Litvak
Stars: Bette Davis, Charles Boyer, Jeffrey Lynn
Marked Woman (1937)
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A crusading DA persuades a clip joint "party girl" to testify against her mobster boss after her innocent sister is accidentally murdered during one of his unsavory "parties".

Directors: Lloyd Bacon, Michael Curtiz
Stars: Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Lola Lane
Dark Victory (1939)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A young socialite is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and must decide whether or not she'll meet her final days with dignity.

Director: Edmund Goulding
Stars: Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Mistress Margaret Radcliffe (as Nanette Fabares)
...
...
...
Sir Edward Coke
Edit

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 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

11 November 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Elizabeth and Essex  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,075,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Vitaphone)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

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 Henry VIII 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

Essex twice compares Elizabeth to her father, speaking of Henry VIII as if from personal acquaintance, though Henry died in 1547 and Essex was born in 1565. See more »

Quotes

Queen Elizabeth I: ...the necessities of a queen must transcend those of a woman.
See more »

Connections

Edited into The Story of Mankind (1957) See more »

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
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A stunning tour de force by Davis and Flynn.
17 June 1999 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

One of my top 10 best movies of all time! This has to be Davis' best dramatic performance ever - the voice, the mannerisms, the psychological torment between Queen and woman. Never have I seen a character performance like Davis' where she literally shakes with the emotion and tension she feels! Even her eating habits are a source of fascination.

Flynn gives another dashing performance of an emotionally shallow, politically incorrect Essex - he never really quite understands just what he is dealing with until towards the very end. To Essex (and probably to Flynn too!) a woman is just a woman ready to acquiesce to her man at his whim and his detractors at court are simply disgruntled competitors for the affections of his woman. Honest and trustworthy, he has no time patience or comprehension of the treacheries of Raleigh and Cecil or the political considerations of Elizabeth.

Though the plot is quite straightforward it is the absorbing script that allows this actors' tour de force - this is one of the few movies ever where the lead characters are allowed to talk from their hearts. Davis portrays a bitingly intelligent woman in desperate need of one honest voice she can trust and depend upon in a sea of political plots and assorted self-interests. Her determination to rule her people wisely avoiding senseless wars is constantly assailed by her great doubts to continue to command respect and love of her people as she ages and must seek impartial counsel amongst a court of self-seeking, two-faced advisors. She walks the razor's edge of lonely command and tormented despair.

DeHavilland's Penelope is a pivotal character whose envy of the queen and discounting by Essex drives her to attempt to destroy their relationship but finally realises where her loyalties lie.

But the highlight of the film is the intimate exchanges between Essex and Elizabeth that bring out the very best and the very worst in each as they explore their true intentions and their boundaries. The quality of these exchanges are so good that they rival today's psychological thrillers as Elizabeth finally uncovers Essex's true ambitions. It makes you realise how few relationships today could withstand such sincere probing as to the real character of the couple. And the dramatic finale is truly heart-wrenching when Essex becomes the true unselfish hero Elizabeth has been seeking upon finally realising what he would do to England if he shared her throne and that even Elizabeth herself is prepared to sacrifice everything she holds most dear for the man she desperately loves.

They just don't write movies like this any more and it is an excellent example of a masterpiece that can never age.


40 of 43 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?