The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex ()

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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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Cast verified as complete

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
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Guy Bellis ...
Lord Charles Howard (uncredited)
Jacob Dance ...
Essex's Soldier (uncredited)
Bit Part (uncredited)
Majordomo (uncredited)
Spectator Outside Whitehall Palace (uncredited)
Handmaiden (uncredited)
Capt. Armand of the Queen's Guard (uncredited)
Lady of the Court (uncredited)
Lady of the Court (uncredited)

Directed by

Michael Curtiz

Written by

Norman Reilly Raine ... (screen play) and
Æneas MacKenzie ... (screen play) (as Aeneas MacKenzie)
Maxwell Anderson ... (from the stage play by)

Produced by

Robert Lord ... associate producer
Hal B. Wallis ... executive producer

Music by

Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Cinematography by

Sol Polito ... director of photography

Film Editing by

Owen Marks ... film editor

Art Direction by

Anton Grot

Costume Design by

Orry-Kelly ... (costumes by)

Makeup Department

Perc Westmore ... makeup artist

Production Management

Jack L. Warner ... in charge of production
Frank Mattison ... unit manager (uncredited)

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director

Sherry Shourds ... assistant director (uncredited)

Sound Department

C.A. Riggs ... sound
Nathan Levinson ... special sound effects (uncredited)

Special Effects by

Byron Haskin ... special effects
Hans F. Koenekamp ... special effects (as H.F. Koenekamp)


Buster Wiles ... stunts (uncredited)

Camera and Electrical Department

W. Howard Greene ... associate director of photography

Costume and Wardrobe Department

Eugene Joseff ... costume jeweller (uncredited)

Music Department

Leo F. Forbstein ... musical director
Hugo Friedhofer ... orchestrator
Milan Roder ... orchestrator
Faith Kruger ... singing voice: Olivia de Havilland (uncredited)

Other crew

Ali Hubert ... technical advisor
Natalie Kalmus ... technicolor color director
Stanley Logan ... dialogue director
Morgan Padelford ... associate technicolor color director
Herman Lissauer ... historical advisor (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

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Special Effects


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Plot Summary

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 Keywords
Taglines Elizabeth I's love for the Earl of Essex threatens to destroy her kingdom. See more »
Parents Guide Add content advisory for parents »

Additional Details

Also Known As
  • Essex and Elizabeth (United States)
  • Elizabeth and Essex (United States)
  • Elizabeth the Queen (United States)
  • The Knight and the Lady (United States)
  • La vie privée d'Elisabeth d'Angleterre (France)
  • See more »
  • 106 min
Aspect Ratio
Sound Mix
Filming Locations

Box Office

Budget $1,075,000 (estimated)

Did You Know?

Trivia Bette Davis had originally wanted Laurence Olivier for the role of Lord Essex, claiming that Errol Flynn could not speak blank verse well. She remained extremely upset about this through the entire filming, and Flynn and Davis never worked again together in a film. According to Olivia de Havilland, she and Davis screened the film again a short while before Davis suffered four strokes in 1983. At film's end, Davis turned to de Havilland and declared that she had been wrong about Flynn, and that he had given a fine performance as Essex. See more »
Goofs The real Robert Cecil was small and had a curved spine, and was one of Queen Elizabeth's chief counselors, not the supercilious character portrayed in this film, or in Maxwell Anderson's original play. The queen would affectionately refer to him as "my dwarf". He is more accurately portrayed in the TV miniseries Elizabeth I (2005). See more »
Movie Connections Edited into Adventures of Don Juan (1948). See more »
Soundtracks The Passionate Shepherd to His Love (Come Live With Me and Be My Love) See more »
Crazy Credits The Warner Brothers shield is in the form of an English coat of arms. This logo was seen in Errol Flynn's previous film The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). See more »
Quotes Queen Elizabeth I: And when he takes you in his arms again, thank heaven you are not a queen.
Mistress Margaret Radcliffe: But I thought to be a queen...
Queen Elizabeth I: To be a Queen is to be less than human, to put pride before desire, to search Men's hearts for tenderness, and find only ambition. To cry out in the dark for one unselfish voice, to hear only the dry rustle of papers of state. To turn to one's beloved with stars for eyes and have him see behind me only the shadow of the executioner's block. A queen has no hour for love, time presses, and events crowd upon her, and her shell, an empty glittering husk, she must give up all the a woman holds most dear.
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