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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 Virgin Queen marks Bette Davis's second go around as Elizabeth I of England. The first and better known film was done in 1939, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. The action in that film takes place at almost the very end of her regime in 1602. Bette Davis who was 31 at the time was made up to look the 66 that Elizabeth was then.
This film takes place 15 years earlier, but Bette is now 47, a lot closer in age to the real Elizabeth then. The film is a fictional account of the arrival of Sir Walter Raleigh at her court and what transpired therein.
Raleigh is played by Richard Todd, the Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, Raleigh was played by Vincent Price. These are two quite different Raleighs, Todd is here, self described as blunt speaking plain soldier who wants Elizabeth to give him a ship to explore the new world. By 1602, Price's Raleigh has become every bit the flattering courtier that he as Todd so despised.
All royal courts are places of intrigue by their very nature, Elizabeth's even more so. First of all she was a woman who did like young handsome men around her. In her early days it was Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester played here by Herbert Marshall. Later on it was Christopher Hatton who is played by Robert Douglas. Then it was Raleigh and last the Earl of Essex, the protagonist in the earlier Davis Elizabethan role. These guys fought for her favor and she kind of enjoyed pitting them against each other. In addition she had the Cecils, uncle William and nephew Robert also serving here. There was no romantic attachment there and Francis Walsingham as well with no romance involved. Each one of these people had their good and bad qualities and served Elizabeth well in his own way.
Also she was known as The Virgin Queen because she was unmarried though I doubt strongly she physically kept her virginity. She was the last of the line of Tudors, the succession was very much up in the air. The threat of civil war, like the War of the Roses in the previous century. None of these guys knew who would wind up succeeding her, they all had to be on nimble feet to make the right jump. A wrong decision could cost somebody his head.
This is the background of what Raleigh was dealing with in Elizabeth's court. It's not true however that Christopher Hatton was the villain as shown here. He was battling for his survival like everybody else.
What is true is that Raleigh while Elizabeth was drawn to him, was in turn drawn to Bess Throckmorton one of her ladies in waiting. He did secretly marry her and got her pregnant as the film states. And Elizabeth I got her dander up as she was wont to do.
I'm sorry the Cecils and Walsingham were not included in this film. They were both very much on the scene, it's the biggest inaccuracy of the film.
It's not good history, but fair enough entertainment. Note the presence here of both a young Joan Collins as Ms. Throckmorton and Dan O'Herlihy as Raleigh's Irish sidekick. Both do good jobs in their parts.
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