A lawyer whose wife has had an affair sets out to leave her by flying to LA. He becomes ever more involved in the lives of a few fellow travelers on a journey that ends up showing him as much about himself as about the others.
A piano teacher believes that her fiancé, a cellist, was killed on the battlefield. When he returns alive, they marry, but are menaced and threatened by a wealthy, egotistical composer she started dating on the rebound.
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
The movie is 60 years old, made in the Land of Vanilla, the 1950s. And yet, there's a baby percolating in Joan Collins, I think I heard the word "slut" used, and damned if Bette Davis, as Elizabeth Tudor (with a hard-top) literally walks around as if she has a pair of big brass ones. I thought The Virgin Queen was going to be a cheesy costume drama. I was only partially right.
Having enjoyed 1998's Elizabeth, I was looking for something that would add levels to the first Queen E. I got it. She was teetering on nuts (not the brass ones) in this flick. The smart part of her kept grabbing the wheel of state away from the crazy/isolated/monarch-with-a-vengeance part. I have never understood the cult of Bette Davis (I mean . . . yech), but I accepted Davis as this monarch. I think what made Davis work as Elizabeth was that she seemed to be having a whole lot of fun straddling that fence between crazy woman and uber-leader.
The rest of the flick is so much Hollywood clanking of swords and clawing of eyes. I liked listening to Richard Todd (cool voice) as he pitches a golden dream to Liz. He was such a nothing--I kept thinking of all the other actors who could have been Sir Walter Raleigh--but I stuck with him. Things actually got interesting when he would mouth off at Davis, chewing her out, banishing her from his prison cell.
If Davis wasn't your typical 1950s monarch, Todd wasn't going to fit the chivalrous mold either, and that helped this flick a lot.
Which leaves us to Joan Collins. I liked her best when she was popping off to Todd, making him want her more. As one of Bette's ladies in waiting, she got to stand around looking pretty, call Todd a lap dog, and get into a lip lock with him in his apartment that led to a nice, long fade out and in. And you knew, you just had to know that Sir Walter, well, ahem.
Wouldn't you? Joan, in her 20s, was smokin'! But how do you get by the Production Code with that long fade and the cuddly gazing out the window afterward?
I can just see the young un's chortling in he theatre, and the grumps thinking, "Oh, my goodness! They seemed to have had relations. Herbert, we must go. This is smut!"
I'm rambling. I liked The Virgin Queen, even if so much of it was pedestrian. I gained a little tolerance of Bette Davis. I still don't know why Richard Todd was a star (other than the salesman voice). Joan Collins was lovely, and I think her beauty peeked when she played Edith Keeler in an episode of Star Trek. After that, I think she started on her long string of bitchy cartoon characters.
I never once felt much suspense. The costumes were cool, but the sets looked TVish. What made the movie work was the pushback against the man, censorship-wise.
I still liked Kate Blanchett better.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?