Feb. 4, 2011
30. The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)
Starring Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Donald Crisp, Alan Hale, Vincent Price
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Plot: “A depiction of the love/hate relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex.” (from IMDb)
This was a fairly good film. While it may not be entirely historically accurate, the characters are well-presented and the dialogue is crisp and eloquent. Despite the influence from the stage play on which it was based, the story transitions well to the movie format and benefits from beautiful Technicolor cinematography and a regal Korngold score. Against the fidgety, feisty queen (Bette Davis), Errol gives a subdued performance that lends balance to the picture. I thought that their relationship was a little exhausting to watch, though. They go from slapping each other to eating grapes to kissing to playing cards to yelling in minutes flat (I’m generalizing, but you get the idea). Also noteworthy is the exceptional supporting cast. This film wasn’t one of my favorites, but it’s interesting and worth seeing at least once.