Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex The (1939)

Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex The (1939)

A love story really between two “heavyweights”: Elizabeth I (Bette Davis) and the Earl of Essex (Errol Flynn). Essex has returned victorious from Spain but the success of his mission is questioned by the Queen who drained the treasury and taxed her people to support him only to have him return and earn the people’s favor without the needed spoils (funds) of war. Therefore he is a threat to her throne. Donald Crisp plays an advisor to both but friend to Essex. Henry Daniell Henry Stephenson and Vincent Price play political opponents of Essex who conspire to ruin him. Olivia de Havilland plays a lady in Elizabeth’s court who adores Essex even after she discovers that his love is for the Queen only though she’s unknowingly used by Daniell’s character against him. Alan Hale instead of playing his typical role as Flynn’s sidekick plays his opponent in another war. Davis overacts a bit but otherwise gives her usual solid performance though Flynn is every bit her equal. Directed by Michael Curtiz (Casablanca (1942)). Nominated for five Academy Awards: Art Direction Color Cinematography (the first Oscar nomination for Sol Polito and W. Howard Greene A Star is Born (1937)) Special Effects Sound and Musical Score. Based on Maxwell Anderson’s (All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)) play the screenplay was co-written by Norman Reilly Raine (The Life of Emile Zola (1937)).

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