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The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, History | 11 November 1939 (USA)
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A depiction of the love/hate relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex.

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Writers:

(screen play), (screen play) (as Aeneas MacKenzie) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 5 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
... Queen Elizabeth
... Earl of Essex
... Lady Penelope Gray
... Francis Bacon
... Earl of Tyrone
... Sir Walter Raleigh
... Lord Burghley
... Sir Robert Cecil
... Sir Thomas Egerton
... Mistress Margaret Radcliffe (as Nanette Fabares)
... Lord Knollys
... Lord Mountjoy
... Sir Edward Coke
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Storyline

This period drama frames the tumultuous affair between Queen Elizabeth I and the man who would be King of England, Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. Ever the victor on the battlefield, Devereux returns to London after defeating Spanish forces at Cadiz. Middle-aged Elizabeth, so attracted to the younger Devereux but fearful of his influence and popularity, sends him on a new mission: a doomed campaign to Ireland. When he and his troops return in defeat, Devereux demands to share the throne with the heir-less queen, and Elizabeth, at first, intends to marry. Ultimately sensing the marriage would prove disastrous for England, Elizabeth sets in motion a merciless plan to protect her people and preserve her throne. Written by IMDb Editors

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Elizabeth I's love for the Earl of Essex threatens to destroy her kingdom.


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

11 November 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Elizabeth and Essex  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,075,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Vitaphone)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

To give the illusion of baldness, Bette Davis shaved her head two inches in front to show a high forehead under Elizabeth's red wigs. See more »

Goofs

The scores that Korngold wrote for this movie and for THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD are perfect for creating a spirit of epic heroism; as regards music history, however, they are all wrong. The Late Romantic bombast of both these pieces is totally inappropriate for the Middle Ages and for the 16th Century, whose musical styles are well known. See more »

Quotes

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex: [after being slapped hard by Queen Elizabeth I] I would not have taken that from your father the King; much less will I take it from a king in petticoats!
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Connections

Featured in The Adventures of Errol Flynn (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Love's Answer
(uncredited)
Lyrics by Walter Raleigh
Sung by Olivia de Havilland (dubbed by Faith Kruger)
Lute playing dubbed by an anonymous lutist
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User Reviews

 
The Greater Good
22 February 2004 | by See all my reviews

This is a far cry from the sentimental ahistorical nonsense I was expecting. It is all about the machinations of power, the ruthlessness that a ruler must uphold so as not to endanger her kingdom, about the necessity to put oneself aside and think of the greater good. Michael Curtiz, with the inestimable help of Bette Davis in one of her most heartwrenching cinematic portrayals, gets all his sinister points across and does not flinch. Sure enough, the ending is more Hollywood, I believe, than London, more glamorous heroics than real-life sacrifice, but even so, it does not stick in your throat. I loved the amorous, innocent banter and bickering of the queen and the earl in their many intimate moments, and Errol Flynn never photographed better. Was there ever anyone in the annals of Hollywood more handsome? Olivia De Havilland tries on a slightly different role than the goody-goody, doe-eyed ones she usually had to make do with. Technicolor cinematography and lighting are both superb.


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