Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Alternate title: Essex And Elizabeth
USA, 1939. Warner Bros.. Screenplay by Norman Reilly Raine, Aeneas MacKenzie, based on the play by Maxwell Anderson. Cinematography by Sol Polito. Produced by Hal B. Wallis. Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Production Design by Anton Grot. Costume Design by Orry-Kelly. Film Editing by Owen Marks. Academy Awards 1939.
The volatile love affair between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Earl of Essex in 16th-century England is the main focus of this fascinating and gorgeously shot costume drama. Bette Davis gives one of her most explosive performances as the iron-fisted monarch, “a king in petticoats” as Essex (Errol Flynn) refers to her when he’s in one of his more sour moods. The two had a private love affair that few knew about, but in public their sexually-charged fights were great fodder for public digestion until she finally had to execute him for treason when he was still a young man. The gorgeous costumes by Orry-Kelly practically pop off the screen in this sumptuous affair that also features Olivia de Havilland in a small role as one of Flynn’s ardent female admirers.