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Ana, the Princess of Eboli, wears a black patch over her right eye, where she was blinded as a youth when fighting a duel in defense of her king, the despotic Philip. Thereafter she and the monarch were close friends, although his passion for her was never consummated. She marries one of Philip's ministers, bore him a son, and soon became a widow. Now Philip calls upon her to assist in coaching a commoner, Antonio Perez, for the office of first secretary to the crown.The result is more than Philip bargained for as Ana and Antonio become lovers and create a scandal in court, always the scene of perpetual intrigue. Philip has Antonio arrested on a drummed-up charge of murder, and when Ana refuses to leave Madrid, she too is arrested. After spending time in jail, she is transferred to her home and held in check. Antonio escapes and makes his way to Ana, who persuades him to leave the country and take her son. Written by
The English language literature and cinema has not been kind to Philip II of Spain. The two best known cinematic portrayals of him are Raymond Massey in Fire Over England and Montagu Love in The Sea Hawk. Each portrays him as the driven workaholic that he was. If you had an empire that allied with his uncle the Holy Roman Empire covered half of what was called Christendom back in the day, you might be a 24/7 guy like he was to keep it together.
That Lady shows Philip as a central character, but not the center of the story. For That Lady is played by Olivia DeHavilland as Ana deMendoza who with one eye was still one of the regal beauties of those medieval times.
Back in the day Philip would have gotten together, but for reasons of state he married 4 other women at one time or other in his life. He married her off to one of his aging courtiers with the hope probably that she might be free one day.
And one day she's a widow and free, but Philip is not, but he sends for her anyway to kind of tutor his commoner new minister Antonio Perez played by Gilbert Roland in court ways and politics.
Being a commoner, Roland gets more than the usual jealousy and Philip's other minister Dennis Price looks to bring him down playing a wonderful Iago type. Philip isn't quite the raging jealous type that Othello was, but he's got his weaknesses.
Playing Philip and making his big screen debut is Paul Scofield, one of the great players of the English speaking world of the last century. Scofield takes the character made familiar by Massey and Love and adds quite a bit to it. This is a most lonely man as rulers are and having put aside his own passion for DeHavilland is subject to some nasty impulses. That he controls them as well as he did is something of a tribute to his character. But Philip if he was nothing else was about control, most of all self control.
That Lady originated as a play on Broadway that starred Katharine Cornell that ran 79 performances in the 1949-50 season. It was not one of her bigger successes, but we are the poorer for it because like the Lunts, Kit Cornell stuck with the stage. Playing Perez was Torin Thatcher and playing Philip was Henry Daniell. That's a production I can easily see the casting of.
That Lady when its not on Scofield does not move at a good pace. Still the players do what they can with a slow moving story and Scofield is always a pleasure to watch.
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