The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex 1939 — A Movie Trailer of a Movie With Vincent Price

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex 1939 — A Movie Trailer of a Movie With Vincent Price

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Elizabeth I’s love for the Earl of Essex threatens to destroy her kingdom.
A Man of Iron- A Woman of Fire. (Print ad- Fort Dodge Messenger-Chronicle, ((Fort Dodge, Iowa)) 20 March 1940)

IMDb Rating: 7.1 out of 10

A depiction of the love/hate relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. —David Rush

This period drama frames the tumultuous affair between Queen Elizabeth I and the man who would be King of England, Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. Ever the victor on the battlefield, Devereux returns to London after defeating Spanish forces at Cadiz. Middle-aged Elizabeth, so attracted to the younger Devereux but fearful of his influence and popularity, sends him on a new mission: a doomed campaign to Ireland. When he and his troops return in defeat, Devereux demands to share the throne with the heir-less queen, and Elizabeth, at first, intends to marry. Ultimately sensing the marriage would prove disastrous for England, Elizabeth sets in motion a merciless plan to protect her people and preserve her throne. —IMDb Editors

Rating Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer: 71%
Audience Score: 64%

Queen Elizabeth (Bette Davis) secretly loves the ambitious and courageous Earl of Essex (Errol Flynn), but at the same time, she distrusts his desire for power, fearing he will exploit his political influence to her detriment. Though Essex’s popularity soars when he returns victorious from a military campaign in Spain, Elizabeth instead chides him for prosecuting an unprofitable war. While the lover’s quarrel, Sir Walter Raleigh (Vincent Price) schemes to bring about the downfall of Essex.

Plot: Spoilers
The Earl of Essex (Errol Flynn) returns in triumph to London after having dealt the Spanish a crushing naval defeat at Cadiz. In London, an aging Queen Elizabeth (Bette Davis) awaits him with love, but also with fear, because of his popularity with the commoners and his consuming ambition. His envious rivals include Sir Robert Cecil (Henry Daniell), Lord Burghley (Henry Stephenson), and Sir Walter Raleigh (Vincent Price). His only friend at court is Francis Bacon (Donald Crisp).

Instead of the praise he expects, Essex is stunned when Elizabeth criticizes him for his failure to capture the Spanish treasure fleet as he had promised. When his co-commanders are rewarded, Essex protests, precipitating a break between the lovers. He leaves for his estates.

Elizabeth pines for him but refuses to degrade herself by recalling him. But when Hugh O’Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone (Alan Hale, Sr.) revolts and routs the English forces in Ireland, the Queen has the excuse she needs to summon Essex. She intends to make him Master of the Ordnance, a safe position at court. However, his enemies goad him into taking command of the army to be sent to quash the rebellion.

Essex pursues Tyrone, though his letters to Elizabeth begging for much-needed men and supplies go unanswered. Unbeknownst to him, his letters to her, and hers to him, are being intercepted by Lady Penelope Grey (Olivia de Havilland), a lady-in-waiting who loves him herself. Finally, Elizabeth, believing herself to be scorned, sends him orders to disband his army and return to London. Furious, Essex ignores it, orders a night march, and thinks he has finally cornered his foe. However, at a parley, Tyrone points out the smoke rising from the English camp, signifying the destruction of the food and ammunition the English army needs. Essex accepts Tyrone’s terms; he and his men disarm and sail back to England.

Thinking he has been betrayed, he leads his army in a march on London to seize the crown for himself. Elizabeth offers no resistance to his forces, but once alone with him, convinces him that she will accept the kingdom’s joint rule. He then naively disbands his army and is quickly arrested and condemned to death.

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