Review: ‘The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex’

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex is a lavishly-produced historical drama, the first picture to be released using the new fast Technicolor negative, and improved processing methods.

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex is a lavishly-produced historical drama, the first picture to be released using the new fast Technicolor negative, and improved processing methods.

Bette Davis dominates the production at every turn as Elizabeth, virgin queen of England. Her delineation would indicate that Davis did much personal research.

Picture is a film version of Maxwell Anderson’s [stage play] Elizabeth the Queen. Story details the intimate May-and-December love affair of youthful Lord Essex (Errol Flynn) and matronly Queen Elizabeth. Both are headstrong and stubborn; each is ambitious to rule England.

Picture has its slow spots, particularly the excursion of Essex to Ireland to subdue Tyrone (Alan Hale). At times the dialog becomes brittle, and direction grooves into stagey passages that could have been lightened. Minor shortcomings, however, in the general excellence of the production.

1939: Nominations: Best Color Cinematography, Color Art Direction, Score, Sound, Special Effects

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex

Production

Warner. Director Michael Curtiz; Producer Hal B. Wallis (exec.); Screenplay Norman Reilly Raine, Aeneas MacKenzie; Camera Sol Polito, W. Howard Greene; Editor Owen Marks; Music Erich Wolfgang Korngold; Art Director Anton Grot

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1939. Running time: 106 MIN.

With

Bette Davis Errol Flynn Olivia de Havilland Vincent Price Donald Crisp Alan Hale
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