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 gains audience with Queen Elizabeth I 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, 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
Bette Davis is again "The Virgin Queen" in this 1955 film, and this time, her attention is on Sir Walter Raleigh. Earlier, in a more interesting film, "The Story of Elizabeth and Essex," she was the younger Elizabeth and the Earl of Essex was Errol Flynn. "The Virgin Queen" is sumptuous in its production, done in color, and the costumes deservedly won an Oscar. Here Elizabeth is older and becomes fascinated with Walter Raleigh (Richard Todd) when he comes to her court to request three ships to sail to the new world in search of treasure on behalf of England. She puts him in charge of the palace guard; he in turn falls for a lady-in-waiting, Lady Elizabeth Throckmorton (Joan Collins) and secretly marries her. The queen grants him one ship, but while he's preparing it, he finds out that Elizabeth Throckmorton is pregnant with his child. Unfortunately, Elizabeth finds out too and has him placed under arrest.
This is a mildly interesting film and historically not very accurate, though it is true that Sir Walter married Beth Throckmorton secretly, she became pregnant, and he was arrested. The real story is simplified in the film. It makes for not very exciting viewing, though the acting is strong and the cast excellent - besides the stars mentioned, Herbert Marshall is Lord Leicester and Dan O'Herlihy is Lord Derry.
Bette Davis does a marvelous job as Elizabeth, a tough, feisty, demanding and sometimes angry woman. Nobody could look as bad as Davis when she felt it was necessary for the role - she allowed four inches to be shaved from her hairline (Elizabeth had lost her hair due to fever) and wears what can only be called a fright wig. Hollywood stars back then would dress down, muss their hair, maybe cut back on the makeup, but Bette set the bar quite high for acting generations to come when it came to distorting her appearance. She is very effective in the role - as someone pointed out, she's a Yankee playing a British queen, and you never doubt that she is one. Richard Todd handles the language beautifully, but while he may have more depth than someone like Flynn, he doesn't exhibit the necessary charisma and charm. Joan Collins is young, beautiful, and does a good job as Elizabeth Throckmorton.
Worth seeing for the elegance of production and for that fabulous force of nature, Bette Davis.
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