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Sir William Hamilton, a widower of mature years, is British ambassador to the Court of Naples. Emma who comes for a visit with her mother wouldn't cut the grade with London society but she gets along well with the Queen of Naples. Emma likes being Lady Hamilton and life goes smoothly until Lord Nelson pays a visit. Sir William decides at first to let his young wife have her fling and pretends not to know what is going on. But the real life lovers, whose first screen romance was in "Fire Over England" (1937) have an even more burning passion for each other in this film. Written by
Dale O'Connor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
At a victory party for Nelson in 1798, a band plays "A Life on the Ocean Waves," the Royal Marines March written by Henry Russell in the 1830s. See more »
[Greeting a lady in waiting for the Queen of Naples]
Good morning, your ladyship. My daughter, her ladyship, is still resting. And how is Her Majesty's sore throat? You know the best thing for a sore throat is to wrap a woolen sock around your neck before bed.
Sir William Hamilton:
Good morning, your ladyship.
[to Emma's mother]
Sir William Hamilton:
Is Emma still asleep?
She is asleep. In my village, a husband just turns round in bed to look for himself.
Sir William Hamilton:
Yes, and the Queen of Naples does not wear woolen socks!
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A haunting beauty whose fate is entwined with a craggy sea warrior
I recall seeing this film when I was very young and felt sad about it. Now that I'm almost very old I still find it fascinating to watch. It seemed strange how Emma (Vivien Leigh) could rise to such prominence in life to become a Lady Hamilton and eventually fall so low, yes and sadly.
The movie begins at the lower rung, in her later life as she's caught stealing and put in prison where she recounts her story to others. We are taken back in time to her youth and arrival in Italy where, after some thoughtful consideration of her situation in life, Emma agrees to marry the elderly Sir Hamilton, and rather enjoys her position as Lady Hamilton, a glittering socialite.
Events of Napoleonic wartime bring Lord Nelson (Laurence Olivier) into their sphere when in need of supplies and he also seeks to warn them. Yet it is Fate that draws these two, Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton, together in one of the great love stories of their time. It is touching to note Emma's care and concern for Horatio when his health is needing attention. For years their bittersweet romance must struggle to blossom against the ill-will of public opinion.
Vivien Leigh never looked more beautiful and one can see more of the true person she was after setting aside her role in "Gone With the Wind." Laurence Olivier, an actor of many disguises, is well masked in the injuries that Lord Nelson sustained in battle. One can almost feel he is the victim of circumstances as he moves from battles to home front. I don't know that much about the real history or the current politics involved when the movie was made but I always regarded this film as one of the great love stories of the past.
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