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The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex Details

FULL SYNOPSIS

It is no secret that [[Performer~P17295~Bette Davis~bettedavis]] and [[Performer~P90030~Errol Flynn~errolflynn]] were at each other's throats throughout the filming of The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Boiled down to essentials: [[Performer~P17295~Davis~bettedavis]] felt that [[Performer~P90030~Flynn~errolflynn]] was unprofessional, while [[Performer~P90030~Flynn~errolflynn]] thought that [[Performer~P17295~Davis~bettedavis]] took herself too damned seriously. Besides, [[Performer~P17295~Davis~bettedavis]] had wanted [[Performer~P105057~Laurence Olivier~laurenceolivier]] to play the Earl of Essex opposite her Queen Elizabeth I. She was forced to compromise on this point, but refused to allow [[Performer~P90030~Flynn~errolflynn]] proxy top billing via his suggestion that the film be retitled [[Feature~V98451~The Knight and the Lady~theladyandthemob]]. The finished product, a lavish Technicolor costumer allowing full scope to [[Performer~P17295~Davis~bettedavis]]' histrionics and [[Performer~P90030~Flynn~errolflynn]]'s derring-do, betrays little of the backstage hostilities (though [[Performer~P90030~Flynn~errolflynn]] does seem uncomfortably hammy in his scenes with [[Performer~P17295~Davis~bettedavis]]). Adapted by [[Performer~P107429~Norman Reilly Raine~normanreillyraine]] and Aeneas McKenzie from [[Performer~P79634~Maxwell Anderson~maxwellanderson]]'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.' [[Feature~V938~The Adventures of Don Juan~theadventuresofdonjuan]] (1949) and [[Feature~V111856~The Story of Mankind~thestoryofmankind]] (1957). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:September 27, 1939

Awards

Awarded by
Nominee
Category
Year
Status
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nathan Levinson Best Special Effects 1939 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nathan Levinson Best Sound 1939 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Anton Grot Best Art Direction 1939 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Byron Haskin Best Special Effects 1939 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Sol Polito Best Color Cinematography 1939 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences W. Howard Greene Best Color Cinematography 1939 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Erich Wolfgang Korngold Best Score 1939 Nominee

Cast

Bette Davis
as Elizabeth I
Errol Flynn
as Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex
Olivia de Havilland
as Penelope Gray
Vincent Price
as Sir Walter Raleigh
Donald Crisp
as Francis Bacon
Alan Hale
as Earl of Tyrone
Henry Stephenson
as Lord Burghley
Henry Daniell
as Sir Robert Cecil
James Stephenson
as Sir Thomas Egerton
Ralph Forbes
as Lord Knollys
Robert Warwick
as Lord Mountjoy
Leo G. Carroll
as Sir Edward Coke
Judith Anderson
Rosella Towne
Doris Lloyd
Nanette Fabray
as Mistress Margaret Radcliffe
I. Stanford Jolley
John Sutton
Maris Wrixon
Forrester Harvey

Crew

Michael Curtiz
Director
Hal B. Wallis
Producer
Maxwell Anderson
Play Author
Norman Reilly Raine
Screenwriter
Aeneas MacKenzie
Screenwriter
Sol Polito
Cinematographer
W. Howard Greene
Cinematographer
Leo F. Forbstein
Musical Direction/Supervision
Hugo W. Friedhofer
Musical Direction/Supervision
Milan Roder
Musical Direction/Supervision
Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Composer (Music Score)
Owen Marks
Editor
Anton Grot
Art Director
Robert Lord
Associate Producer
Orry-Kelly
Costume Designer
Byron Haskin
Special Effects
Ali Hubert
Consultant/advisor
Nathan Levinson
Sound Special Effects
Nathan Levinson
Sound Recordist
Perc Westmore
Makeup
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