7.2/10
3,813
59 user 26 critic

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, History | 11 November 1939 (USA)
Trailer
3:28 | Trailer

On Disc

at Amazon

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
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 7.2/10 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
Captain Blood (1935)
Action | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

After being wrongly convicted as a traitor, Peter Blood, an English physician, is sent to exile in the British colonies of the Caribbean, where he becomes a pirate.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Lionel Atwill
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
Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A highly fictionalized account of the life of George Armstrong Custer from his arrival at West Point in 1857 to his death at the battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. He has little ... See full summary »

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Arthur Kennedy
The Old Maid (1939)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 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
The Sea Hawk (1940)
Action | Adventure | Romance
    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
Action | Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

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

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Patric Knowles
Juarez (1939)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Louis Napoleon III takes advantage of the American Civil War to circumvent the Monroe Doctrine and expand his power by helping Emperor Maximillian Hapsburg to add Mexico to his empire. of Mexico.

Director: William Dieterle
Stars: Paul Muni, Bette Davis, Brian Aherne
Action | Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The great lover Don Juan comes to the assistance of his queen.

Director: Vincent Sherman
Stars: Errol Flynn, Viveca Lindfors, Robert Douglas
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 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
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
...
...
Henry Stephenson ...
...
...
...
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

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  »

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

Bette Davis had originally wanted Laurence Olivier for the role of Lord Essex, claiming that Errol Flynn could not speak blank verse well. She remained extremely upset about this through the entire filming, and Flynn and Davis never worked again together in a film, but according to Olivia de Havilland, she and Davis screened the film again a short while before Davis's stroke. At film's end, Davis turned to de Havilland and declared that she had been wrong about Flynn, and that he gave a fine performance as Essex. 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

Featured in Elizabeth & Essex: Battle Royale (2005) 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

 
Not the dream team of the cinema
13 February 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex was a personal triumph for Bette Davis in her portrayal of Elizabeth I of England. Davis was 31 when she played the Virgin Queen at the tail end of her regime, Elizabeth herself was 65 in 1601 when the action of this story takes place. It concerns her involvement with Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex, a last foolish gesture on the part of a great monarch.

Davis hated working with Errol Flynn since doing The Sisters with him a year earlier. She was quoted as saying that when she had to kiss him she'd close her eyes and pretend it was Laurence Olivier. But I think Olivier might have had trouble making Essex a hero.

In point of fact he wasn't any kind of a hero. He was a vainglorious, conceited, egotistical cad of a human being who apparently only had talent in the bedroom. Now the bedroom part would have fit Flynn perfectly. But he became a military commander and leader and he bungled every job he was given.

The real Essex was played like a piccolo by the other members and rivals of the Elizabethan court. His main rival in the film is Robert Cecil played by Henry Daniell. In the film he is incorrectly identified as Lord Burghley's(Henry Stephenson's)son when in fact he was a nephew. Because it's Henry Daniell and he's a clever schemer he has to be the villain. In point of fact Cecil was a patriot in the best tradition. He was very concerned in fact about Essex's military ventures that they were nothing but missions of glory. Cecil's greatest contribution to English history was to come two years later when Elizabeth died, it's due to him that there was an orderly transition from the House of Tudor to the House of Stuart.

My favorite performance in this film is that of Alan Hale as Hugh O'Neill, the Earl of Tyrone who led the Irish rebellion against the English at that time. What happens in court to Essex with his rivals there is nothing compared to the way O'Neill plays him. He leads him deeper into the Irish interior, using hit and run tactics and then cuts him off from his supply base. And then in surrendering O'Neill very cleverly sows the seed of more dissension by telling him what a great leader he was and the Irish could never have beaten him if he'd been backed up better from home. And Essex the rube falls for it.

Another good performance is Donald Crisp as Sir Francis Bacon. He's a wily old fox used to court politics Elizabethan style. Bacon tries to give Essex some good advice none of which Essex accepts. In the end Bacon gives up on Essex and just switches sides, lest he be brought down with him.

So what we have here is Bette Davis giving a great performance with a leading man she detested and Flynn trying desperately to breathe life and heroism into a character who wasn't terribly heroic. It would have defeated a better actor than Errol Flynn.


38 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Why is Davis so fidgety? ariesjow
Errol Flynn in Tights mdami75602
Bette Davis miscast?? cookieluv
Greatest Performance of All time!!!! dreamclub26
Lady Penelope icblue02
DVD!!! FranLovesBetteD

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?