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Norman Z. McLeod
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Chronicles the life of queen Elizabeth I, before she became the queen of England. Apart from taking part in the court intrigues, she is unhappily in love with admiral Thomas Seymour, and dreams of building a navy to match the Portuguese and the Spanish. Written by
Entertaining, sumptuous treatment of historical drama...
With an exceptionally good cast headed by Jean Simmons, Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr and Charles Laughton, costumes by Walter Plunkett, music by Miklos Rozsa and all the technical wizardry of MGM's vast resources, YOUNG BESS is the kind of historical romance that comes to life on the screen with a good deal of vitality. Jean Simmons and Charles Laughton have the most interesting roles and play them brilliantly, particularly Laughton who is once again portraying Henry VIII, the shrewd monarch who disposed of the women in his life by putting them to the block.
The screenplay is gracefully written and although it is leisurely paced, it never lets up interest in examining the relationships between Elizabeth I (young Bess) and others at court. Historical purists will object to whatever liberties the novel took to tell this story of court intrigue, but they will be impressed by the attention paid to historical detail and the meticulous settings and costumes. The score by Miklos Rozsa is not obtrusive and yet it underlines the deep emotions portrayed by Simmons, Granger and Laughton. Deborah Kerr has a rather colorless and almost minor role as Catherine Parr and is unable to do much with it although she and Simmons photograph beautifully in color.
Easy on the eyes and a very entertaining saga of a bloody chapter in England's history.
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