The second in a trilogy of movies about Elisabeth "Sissi" of Austria, the film chronicles the married life of the young empress as she tries to adjust to formal and strict life in the palace and an overbearing mother-in-law.
Sir Walter Raleigh gains audience with Queen Elizabeth I and soon wins her over to his way of thinking. He wants ships to sail and make a name for England. A young ward of the court, Beth Throgmorton, is strongly attracted to Raleigh and returns the attraction. But soon the Queen shows her desires and he bends in order to achieve his goal of ships. But still he loves Beth. Written by
This one should have been a lot better, considering the pedigree of its cast and the professionals behind the camera, including the always reliable Franz Waxman, contributing a score that must have sounded wonderful when those theaters equipped with stereophonic sound systems played this costumer during its first release.
But director Henry Koster's touch is particularly pedestrian in this one. (Note how he stages the legendary scene when Sir Walter Raleigh spreads his cape across a muddy patch for Queen Elizabeth to glide over it without soiling her royal hem. Tossed off as if it weren't worth showing!) And the script seems to be regurgitating all those well-worn cliches about a love and sex-starved Queen Elizabeth I surrounded by male courtiers who have only their various personal ambitions to keep them apparently interested in her feminine needs.
Bette does her best (and even supposedly consented to shaving herself bald for the role!) and Richard Todd and a young and lovely Joan Collins convince as a couple willing to risk the frustrated Queen's wrath to consummate their love. And it's always a pleasure to see actors like Dan O'Herlihy and Herbert Marshall in support, despite how woefully little is made of their talents.
Beware the VHS version, a "formatted" desecration of the original 2.55:1 CinemaScope ratio. For no other reason this handsomely mounted production deserves to be given the widescreen DVD treatment.
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