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The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, History | 11 November 1939 (USA)
A depiction of the love/hate relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex.

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(screen play), (screen play) (as Aeneas MacKenzie) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 5 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

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Mistress Margaret Radcliffe (as Nanette Fabares)
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Sir Edward Coke
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Storyline

This period drama frames the tumultuous affair between Queen Elizabeth I and the man who would be King of England, Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. Ever the victor on the battlefield, Devereux returns to London after defeating Spanish forces at Cadiz. Middle-aged Elizabeth, so attracted to the younger Devereux but fearful of his influence and popularity, sends him on a new mission: a doomed campaign to Ireland. When he and his troops return in defeat, Devereux demands to share the throne with the heir-less queen, and Elizabeth, at first, intends to marry. Ultimately sensing the marriage would prove disastrous for England, Elizabeth sets in motion a merciless plan to protect her people and preserve her throne. Written by IMDb Editors

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Elizabeth I's love for the Earl of Essex threatens to destroy her kingdom.


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

11 November 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Elizabeth and Essex  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,075,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Vitaphone)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The relationship between Elizabeth and Essex bordered on the incestuous. His maternal great-grandmother Mary Boleyn was a sister of Anne Boleyn, mother of Queen Elizabeth I, making him a cousin of the Queen, and there were rumours that his grandmother, Catherine Carey, a close friend of Queen Elizabeth's, was Henry VIII's illegitimate daughter. Moreover, his mother was married to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, the Queen's most beloved courtier and rumoredly her secret lover. See more »

Goofs

The movie depicts Lord Burleigh being alive at the time of Essex's insurrection in 1601 however, Burleigh died in 1598. See more »

Quotes

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex: And now, may I go? This dying sticks in my mind and makes me poor company.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Women He's Undressed (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love (Come Live With Me and Be My Love)
(posthumous 1599) (uncredited)
:yrics by Christopher Marlowe
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Played on piano by Erich Wolfgang Korngold and sung by Nanette Fabray
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User Reviews

 
The Elizabeth of legend
7 December 2005 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

This picture, based on Maxwell Anderson's play (written entirely in blank verse!) portrays the Elizabeth of legend, not the historical Elizabeth, in this case based on Lytton Strachey's book, "Elizabeth and Essex". In other words, this is more a theatrical than a strictly accurate presentation of the great queen and her times.

And what a presentation! Lynn Fontanne portrayed Elizabeth in the play's original Broadway run; Judith Anderson played her in the 1968 television presentation (opposite Charlton Heston!). Davis takes the part (re-written for the picture, discarding the blank verse) over the top. Her overactive, explosive performance might seem too much to some, but it definitely matches the style of the play itself, the sumptuous settings, gorgeously photographed, the historically accurate costuming, and Korngold's splashy, brilliant score, one of his best creations.

The supporting cast matches her at every turn. Even Flynn's performance, dismissed at the time as being lightweight, comes across as the ideal foil to the tempestuous, aging queen he's playing against.

Quite a treat, even after almost seventy years. Definitely of its time, but, understanding this, it can be thoroughly enjoyed.


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