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
16 years after portraying Queen Elizabeth I in Michael Curtiz's THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX (1939), Bette Davis donned the garments of the fiery British monarch once more for this fine (if largely unhistorical) costumer about another tumultuous relationship of hers – with Sir Walter Raleigh (here played by the late Richard Todd, who died just the other day aged 90). Although Davis unsurprisingly dwarfs the rest of the participants in the acting stakes, she is still surrounded by a most able cast that also includes Joan Collins (as one of Elizabeth's ladies-in-waiting who, much to the latter's chagrin, becomes Mrs. Walter Raleigh and is carrying his child), Herbert Marshall (as the long-suffering Chancellor of England), Robert Douglas (as Elizabeth's villainous chief adviser), Dan O'Herlihy (as, controversially, an Irish lord and Raleigh's best friend) and Jay Robinson (as Douglas' reptilian henchman). There are some good lines (especially when Davis and Todd indulge in verbal sparring), two good fight sequences both involving Todd (a vigorous swordfight in a tavern at the start and an animated fistfight with Douglas towards the end), a serviceable score from Franz Waxman and, as is to be expected from a Grade-A studio product, the film is very handsome to behold (the costume designers nabbed its sole Oscar nod).
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