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Young Bess (1953)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, Romance | 29 May 1953 (USA)
The early life of Elizabeth I, from her childhood until her accession to the throne of England in 1558.


George Sidney


Margaret Irwin (based on the novel by), Jan Lustig | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean Simmons ... Young Bess (Queen Elizabeth I)
Stewart Granger ... Thomas Seymour
Deborah Kerr ... Catherine Parr
Charles Laughton ... King Henry VIII
Kay Walsh ... Mrs. Ashley
Guy Rolfe ... Ned Seymour
Kathleen Byron ... Ann Seymour
Cecil Kellaway ... Mr. Parry
Rex Thompson ... Prince Edward / King Edward VI
Robert Arthur ... Barnaby
Leo G. Carroll ... Mr. Mums
Norma Varden ... Lady Tyrwhitt
Alan Napier ... Robert Tyrwhitt
Noreen Corcoran ... Bess as a child
Ivan Triesault ... Danish Envoy


Chronicles the life of queen Elizabeth I, before she became the queen of England. Apart from taking part in the court intrigues, she is unhappily in love with admiral Thomas Seymour, and dreams of building a navy to match the Portuguese and the Spanish. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Love Story of a Princess See more »


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

29 May 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Thronfolgerin See more »


Box Office


$2,423,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,645,000, 31 December 1953

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,095,000, 31 December 1953
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Deborah Kerr (Catherine Parr) and Kathleen Byron (Ann Seymour) played look-alike nuns in Black Narcissus (1947), one virtuous, the other insane. Jean Simmons (Young Bess) also appeared in the film. See more »


In the shot showing Elizabeth leaving Whitehall after Edward becomes king, her carriage becomes transparent (due to the matte painting of trees and sky behind it). See more »


Thomas Seymour: If you were queen of England, what would you do, eh? Would you give your admiral the opportunity to do great deeds?
Young Bess: I'd give him the opportunities he never dared to dream about. I'd send him around the globe as the Portuguese do. I'd send him to the New World to let the Spaniards know that they are no longer masters of it.
Thomas Seymour: That won't be easy. We're a small country, Bess.
Young Bess: That can be remedied, Tom. It CAN be remedied!
See more »


Referenced in Kiss Me Kate (1953) See more »

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User Reviews

The most cinema loved Royal Family in English History!
19 April 2004 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

How many films have been made about Alfred the Great, the only English monarch with the nickname "the Great". Only one, made in the 1960s I believe. There is, to my knowledge no film about William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings, although there are at least six versions of Shakespeare's MACBETH (who was William's contemporary monarch in Scotland!).

There is one film about the Normans of William's time - THE WARLORD (1965) with Charleton Heston and Richard Boone. It's a very good film, but it never shows William. No films about St. Edward the Confessor, Ethelred the Unready, William Rufus, or Hardecanute (remember the Danish Viking ruler of England who whipped the disobedient waves of the Channel).

The first major English monarch who is made the subject of a big film is Henry II, the role played (both times) by Peter O'Toole in BECKET and THE LION IN WINTER. Significantly his two roles stem from two major plays of the 1950s and 1960s. His son Richard I ("the Lion-Hearted") appears in THE LION IN WINTER, but earlier films included THE CRUSADES, ROBIN HOOD, IVANHOE, KING RICHARD AND THE CRUSADERS, and ROBIN AND MARION. Richard is really the first English monarch to appear in more than just a couple of films - but notice, even though he is a central figure the films tend to deal with the Third Crusade he helped to lead, or the machinations of his brother "Prince John", or the possibly fictional figure of Robin, Earl of Locksley (known as "Robin Hood"). While THE CRUSADES and KING RICHARD AND THE CRUSADERS deal with him and Berengaria (his wife), and try to build a romantic and chivalric triangle between them and Saladin, the actual sexual interests of Richard seem to be closer to the performance of Anthony Hopkins in THE LION IN WINTER.

Oddly there is no film about King John and his failure to control his nobles (not even a film version of Shakespeare's historic play, although a television movie version was made starring Leonard Rossiter as John in the 1980s - but the BBC were filming the entire series of the plays). Nor of the fights led by Simon De Montford against Henry III that led to the creation of the House of Commons. Occasional films pick up on a few monarchs - BRAVEHEART giving a look at Edward I and his witless son; Christopher Marlowe's EDWARD II showing what happened to the witless son; CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT being Orson Welles's take on Henry IV and Prince Hal (but concentrating on Sir John Falstaff); and both Olivier and Branagh dealing with HENRY V in two startling great and different interpretations. Then there is another biggie: Old Crookback - RICHARD III in Olivier's production set in the 1470s and 1480s, or the version by Sir Ian McKellan set in the 1930s, or TOWER OF London with Rathbone (a distinctive Richard) abetted by Karloff, and then a version with Vincent Price (who was Clarence in TOWER OF London).

This brings us to the champs of British Royals in film - the Tudors. Henry VII always pops up in the Richard films (he has to - he wins at Bosworth Field). Yet no film specifically about Henry VII has been made. Not so Henry VIII, Edward VI, Jane Gray, and Elizabeth (not much for "Bloody Mary") though. THE PRIVATE LIFE OF HENRY VIII, THE SIX WIVES OF HENRY VIII, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, ANNE OF A THOUSAND DAYS, THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (at least 3 versions, including one called CROSSED SWORDS), YOUNG BESS, SIX DAY QUEEN, ELIZABETH, MARY OF Scotland (Mary, Queen of Scots, was Henry VIII's niece), MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS, THE VIRGIN QUEEN, THE SEA HAWK, FIRE OVER ENGLAND, THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX / ELIZABETH THE QUEEN, Shakespeare IN LOVE. No other British Royal Family has been as chronicled in films as the Tudors. Think of it. Charles I was the center of so much turmoil that he eventually was executed after a trial following a series of Civil Wars he lost to Oliver Cromwell. Only one film about him was made - and a bad one - CROMWELL (emphasizing the victor of those wars). But the Tudors generate more interest - there is more skulduggery and treason in their reigns than most, and England becomes a great nation (and a cultural fountainhead) at the end of it all.

YOUNG BESS is a small joy - it deals with the forgotten career of Admiral Thomas Seymour, uncle of King Edward VI, and would-be romantic wooer of Princess Elizabeth. He also was the last of Katherine Parr's three husbands (Henry VIII being the second). It is the second time that Laughton plays the great monarch, and the terrible fury of the man is shown in two shots showing his hand caressing the neck of Elizabeth's doomed mother Anne Boleyn, and later caressing the neck of the doomed Catherine Howard in the same way. Most interesting is the casting of Jean Simmons and Steward Granger as Princess Elizabeth and Admiral Tom Seymour. They were married at the time, so their scenes together have an extra-something to them (like the Burtons some ten years later). YOUNG BESS is not accurate history, but it is good film making. You will view this film with satisfaction.

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