The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
Elizabeth I's love for the Earl of Essex threatens to destroy her kingdom.
This period drama frames the tumultuous affair between Queen Elizabeth I and the man who would be King of England.
Bette Davis is a great actress, but this was not a good role for here. Too many nervous behaviors.
This depiction of the romance between Queen Elizabeth and the Earl of Essex has a stellar cast including Errol Flyn, Olivia de Havilland, Donald Crisp, Henry Daniell, Alan Hale and Vincent Price, but Bette Davis completely dominates the film regardless. Her portrayal spans both powerful, decisive leader of her country and insecure, lovelorn woman there is never a conflict between the disparate elements, all feel part of this fully rounded character. The film is basically a stage play taking place mostly in Elizabeth's court and private chambers and thrives on dialogue and character relationships. Davis in particular get some wonderfully written passages of dialogue. Flynn is fine as Davis' suitor but his boyish charm isn't completely suited to the dramatic material the script calls for. The DVD is poor - the Technicolor colours are so mis-registered it looks like a 3D film - when you're not wearing the glasses - at times.
Bette Davis has to carry this fairly standard period piece from Michael Curtiz. She does so quite nicely, especially in the moments where she drops her stern demeanor and allows herself to smile.
Curtiz does a pretty good job with the overly sentimental script. I especially like the way he shoots Davis bluntly head-on when she's at her most stern and unforgiving, and saves the profile shots for when she shows emotion, or when her position of superiority is challenged.
Errol Flynn gives it the old college try, but he just can't match up. And, believe it or not, a young Vincent Price has a supporting role as Sir Walter Raleigh.
2011-09-30: TV: 5/10 slow and stiff - Bette Davis does her best to salvage it but ultimately it's a yawn