The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex

( 3 )

Overview

It is no secret that Bette Davis and Errol Flynn were at each other's throats throughout the filming of The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Boiled down to essentials: Davis felt that Flynn was unprofessional, while Flynn thought that Davis took herself too damned seriously. Besides, Davis had wanted Laurence Olivier to play the Earl of Essex opposite her Queen Elizabeth I. She was forced to compromise on this point, but refused to allow Flynn proxy top billing via his suggestion that the film be retitled ...
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Overview

It is no secret that Bette Davis and Errol Flynn were at each other's throats throughout the filming of The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Boiled down to essentials: Davis felt that Flynn was unprofessional, while Flynn thought that Davis took herself too damned seriously. Besides, Davis had wanted Laurence Olivier to play the Earl of Essex opposite her Queen Elizabeth I. She was forced to compromise on this point, but refused to allow Flynn proxy top billing via his suggestion that the film be retitled The Knight and the Lady. The finished product, a lavish Technicolor costumer allowing full scope to Davis' histrionics and Flynn's derring-do, betrays little of the backstage hostilities though Flynn does seem uncomfortably hammy in his scenes with Davis. Adapted by Norman Reilly Raine and Aeneas McKenzie from Maxwell Anderson's blank-verse play Elizabeth the Queen which served as the film's reissue title, the story concerns the tempestuous relationship between the middle-aged Elizabeth and the ambitious Essex. At one point, the Queen intends to marry Essex and relinquish her throne, until she realizes that his plans for advancement would ultimately prove disastrous for England. When afforded the opportunity to execute Essex for treason, she reluctantly signs his death warrant. Minutes before his final walk to the chopping block, Elizabeth begs Essex to ask for a pardon. But Essex, fully aware that his warlike policies will only resurface if he is permitted to live, refuses to accept the Queen's mercy, and goes off to meet his doom. Olivia de Havilland is wasted in the role of a lady-in-waiting who carries a torch for Essex. If the scenes of Essex' triumphant return to London after winning the battle of Cadiz seem familiar, it is because they were reused as stock footage in Warner Bros.' The Adventures of Don Juan 1949 and The Story of Mankind 1957.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Leonard Maltin hosts Night at the Movies 1939 with: ; Newsreel; Musical short: The Royal Rodeo; Cartoon Old Glory; Theatrical trailers; New featurette Elizabeth and Essex: Battle Royale; Languages: English & Français; Subtitles: English, Français & Español
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
Long famous for backstage tensions between stars Bette Davis and Errol Flynn, this Michael Cutiz film is a beautifully made period piece, featuring many of the key personnel who had worked on classic Flynn adventures such as Robin Hood, Captain Blood, and The Sea Hawk. Nevertheless it can't overcome the lack of chemistry between the stars and an overly complicated plot. According to the film's apocryphal history, Elizabeth I is in love with the Earl of Essex but, anxious over his possible desire for greater power, intentionally criticizes him for the high cost of his victory after a triumphant return from Spain in 1596. This sets in motion a Byzantine series of moves and countermoves involving not only the two principals but the entire world of the court, ending with the lovers' realization of the irreconcilability of their conflicting desires for love and power. Aside from the stars' visible starchiness in their scenes together, the film also suffers from an excessive fidelity to Maxwell Anderson's play in blank verse, which has moments of eloquence but is understandably more laden with dialogue than a film can usually afford to be. Erich Korngold's superb score and Orry-Kelly's sumptuous costumes are the most notable offscreen contributions to this handsomely mounted production.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/19/2005
  • UPC: 012569522824
  • Original Release: 1939
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Home Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 1:46:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bette Davis Elizabeth I
Errol Flynn Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex
Olivia de Havilland Penelope Gray
Vincent Price Sir Walter Raleigh
Donald Crisp Francis Bacon
Alan Hale Earl of Tyrone
Henry Stephenson Lord Burghley
Henry Daniell Sir Robert Cecil
James Stephenson Sir Thomas Egerton
Ralph Forbes Lord Knollys
Robert Warwick Lord Mountjoy
Leo G. Carroll Sir Edward Coke
Judith Anderson
Guy Bellis Lord Charles Howard
Nanette Fabray Mistress Margaret Radcliffe
Forrester Harvey
I. Stanford Jolley
Doris Lloyd
John Sutton
Rosella Towne
Maris Wrixon
Technical Credits
Michael Curtiz Director
Leo F. Forbstein Musical Direction/Supervision
Hugo W. Friedhofer Musical Direction/Supervision
Howard Greene Cinematographer
W. Howard Greene Cinematographer
Anton Grot Art Director
Byron Haskin Special Effects
Ali Hubert Consultant/advisor
H.F. Koenekamp Special Effects
Erich Wolfgang Korngold Score Composer
Robert Lord Associate Producer
Aeneas MacKenzie Screenwriter
Owen Marks Editor
Norman Reilly Raine Screenwriter
Orry-Kelly Costumes/Costume Designer
Sol Polito Cinematographer
Milan Roder Musical Direction/Supervision
Hal B. Wallis Producer
Perc Westmore Makeup
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Credits [1:27]
2. Essex Comes Home [2:38]
3. Turning Their Backs [7:12]
4. Let Her Seek Pardon [3:15]
5. The Loves of Queens [2:33]
6. Unflattering Mirrors [6:17]
7. Lovelorn Maid and Monarch [4:09]
8. Weight of the World [5:57]
9. Handling Women [1:47]
10. Penelope's Warning [3:37]
11. Ever Together and Apart [5:07]
12. Lover's Promise [5:05]
13. To Ireland and the Devil [3:46]
14. Take This Ring [2:58]
15. Word from London [4:14]
16. Man of Sense [2:01]
17. Lies and Quicksand [4:20]
18. No Choice [4:56]
19. Essex in Rebellion [4:45]
20. Treachery Uncovered [3:22]
21. Shared Love and Power [:19]
22. Under Arrest [6:12]
23. No One Dies Happily [3:22]
24. Look On My Face [4:09]
25. Hour for Truth [2:59]
26. Goodbye, My Love [5:15]
27. Cast List [3:40]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Warner Night at the Movies
      Introduction by Leonard Maltin
      Dark Victory Theatrical Trailer
      Newsreel
      The Royal Rodeo
      Old Glory
      The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
      Features
         Elizabeth and Essex: Battle Royale
         Theatrical Trailer
   Play Movie
   Scene Selections
   Special Features
      Warner Night at the Movies
         Introduction by Leonard Maltin
         Dark Victory Theatrical Trailer
         Newsreel
         The Royal Rodeo
         Old Glory
         The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
      Elizabeth and Essex: Battle Royale
      Theatrical Trailer
   Languages
      Spoken Languages
         English
         Français
      Subtitles
         English
         Français
         Español
         Subtitles: Off
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Bette Davis Is Brilliant

    Those four stars are all for Miss Bette Davis. She was the one who kept me watching when I would have otherwise given up. She is simply brilliant as Queen Elizabeth. It's a decent film, but without Davis it's not terribly interesting--Queen Bette's superb performance makes it worth viewing!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews