The son of a dead Italian nobleman and a wealthy American woman forgets the disappointment of finding he has no talent for being a painter by succumbing to the sexual advances of an amoral model who believes in indiscriminate love affairs.
Sir Walter Raleigh (Richard Todd) gains an audience with Queen Elizabeth I (Bette Davis) 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 (Dame Joan Collins), 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
Elizabeth I is nearly always portrayed as stern and unemotional which is probably attributable to the early performances by Dame Flora Robson who set the Elizabeth blueprint. This performance by Bette Davis retains the blueprint but introduces a dark wit to the character. An example is when a scheming ambassador compliments her on her beautiful palace. She replies it was her fathers and that "I will tell him when I see him".
An ambitious adventurer named Walter Raleigh arrives at her court. He only wants three ships to sail and discover gold and the other treasures of the Americas. She takes an instant liking to the handsome Raleigh and the film revolves around her plotting to keep him at her side. She famously refused to marry because she believed in putting country first and here she manipulates Raleigh towards a private relationship that would not diminish her power as Queen in a man's world.
The colorful costumes look a bit party rental but there is plenty of historical accuracy apart from the myth of the "coat over the puddle". The performance from Richard Todd is good but there is little chemistry between him and his wife played by Joan Collins. She delivers her lines so hastily in a modern London accent as if she is about to get on a bus.
The Bette Davis interpretation of Elizabeth and the political machinations at her court are the focus points of the film. There are no dodgy Spanish Armadas or swashbuckling Errol Flynn types detracting from the storytelling or the excellent portrayal of Elizabeth.
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