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The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, History | 11 November 1939 (USA)
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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) (as Aeneas MacKenzie) | 1 more credit »
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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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Sir Robert Cecil
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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

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

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Release Date:

11 November 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Elizabeth and Essex  »

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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

The sixth of nine movies made together by Warner Brothers' romantic couple Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn. 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 ...
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Connections

Featured in Stars of the Silver Screen: Bette Davis (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Love's Answer
(uncredited)
Lyrics by Walter Raleigh
Sung by Olivia de Havilland (dubbed by Faith Kruger)
Lute playing dubbed by an anonymous lutist
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User Reviews

 
The Greater Good
22 February 2004 | by See all my reviews

This is a far cry from the sentimental ahistorical nonsense I was expecting. It is all about the machinations of power, the ruthlessness that a ruler must uphold so as not to endanger her kingdom, about the necessity to put oneself aside and think of the greater good. Michael Curtiz, with the inestimable help of Bette Davis in one of her most heartwrenching cinematic portrayals, gets all his sinister points across and does not flinch. Sure enough, the ending is more Hollywood, I believe, than London, more glamorous heroics than real-life sacrifice, but even so, it does not stick in your throat. I loved the amorous, innocent banter and bickering of the queen and the earl in their many intimate moments, and Errol Flynn never photographed better. Was there ever anyone in the annals of Hollywood more handsome? Olivia De Havilland tries on a slightly different role than the goody-goody, doe-eyed ones she usually had to make do with. Technicolor cinematography and lighting are both superb.


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