28 user 19 critic

Mary of Scotland (1936)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, History | 28 August 1936 (USA)
The recently widowed Mary Stuart returns to Scotland to reclaim her throne but is opposed by her half-brother and her own Scottish lords.


John Ford, Leslie Goodwins (uncredited)


Dudley Nichols (screen play), Maxwell Anderson (from the play by)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Katharine Hepburn ... Mary Stuart
Fredric March ... Earl of Bothwell
Florence Eldridge ... Elizabeth Tudor
Douglas Walton ... Lord Darnley
John Carradine ... David Rizzio
Robert Barrat ... Norton
Gavin Muir ... Leicester
Ian Keith ... James Stuart - Earl of Moray
Moroni Olsen ... John Knox
William Stack William Stack ... Ruthven
Ralph Forbes ... Randolph
Alan Mowbray ... Throckmorton
Frieda Inescort ... Mary Beaton
Donald Crisp ... Huntly
David Torrence ... Lindsay


Mary Stuart returns to Scotland to rule as queen, to the chagrin of Elizabeth I of England who finds her a dangerous rival. There is much ado over whom Mary shall marry; to her later regret, she picks effete Lord Darnley over the strong but unpopular Earl of Bothwell. A palace coup leads to civil war and house arrest for Mary; she escapes and flees to England, where a worse fate awaits her. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One of the greatest love stories of all time... brought to the screen in throbbing glory by a wonderful cast of stars! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


According to A. Scott Berg's memoir "Kate Remembered", Katharine Hepburn was already chosen for Mary, but they had trouble casting Elizabeth. At one point Hepburn, who had by then been nicknamed "Katharine of Arrogance", suggested that she play both roles. Supporting player John Carradine asked, "But if you played both queens, how would you know which one to upstage?" She was not amused at the time, but roared with laughter when retelling the story years later. See more »


When an overzealous Bothwell pulls at the window bars of his cell, the prop bars move. See more »


Bothwell: Dark or bright, I'll always follow your star, Mary.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits: "Like two fateful stars, Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor appeared in the sixteenth century, to reign over two great nations in the making ... They were doomed to a life-and-death struggle for supremacy, a lurid struggle that still shines across the pages of history ... But today, after more than three centuries, they sleep side by side, at peace, in Westminster Abbey."

ENGLAND See more »

Alternate Versions

Exists in a computer-colorized version. See more »


Featured in Katharine Hepburn: All About Me (1993) See more »

User Reviews

Pretty dull costume drama
31 July 2013 | by Leofwine_dracaSee all my reviews

The life story of Mary, Queen of Scots is a thoroughly engaging one. I recommend anyone who wants to know more about the history while being entertained at the same time to check out the two Jean Plaidy books, ROYAL ROAD TO FOTHERINGAY and its sequel, THE CAPTIVE QUEEN OF SCOTS - two great little novels that tell you all there is to know.

MARY OF Scotland is an all-too Hollywoodised version of the story that suffers from an exceptionally overlong running time, unfortunately. It's strange, because some parts of the production are exceptionally slow and boring, while 19 years of history is condensed into about five minutes. There are a few eventful bits but for the most part this is a drag.

The director is none other than John Ford, but despite the presence of such a cinematic luminary, he seems uninterested in the material which is lifeless as a result. Katharine Hepburn is also a disappointment as Mary herself, singularly failing to make the queen sympathetic in any way. Fredric March does what he can as Bothwell, and there are nice little roles for John Carradine and Moroni Olsen, but it's not enough.

I particularly disliked the way that some good little bits of history are omitted or simplified for no apparent reason. For instance, Douglas Walton's final scene didn't happen that way at all and much more drama could have been made of it. Instead all the focus is on the talk and its incessant and goes nowhere. The definitive story of Mary, Queen of Scots this certainly isn't.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

28 August 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mary, Queen of Scotland See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System) (as R C A Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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