Mary of Scotland - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Mary of Scotland Reviews

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November 13, 2015
She'll see you when she wants to see you.

Mary is the Queen of Scotland who is sick of her family and associates pushing her in a direction that will lead to war and/or poverty for her people. Her half brother stabs her in the back leading to her arrest by Queen Elizabeth where she is held hostage/prisoner. She tries several attempts to change her situation, but her attempts are stymied. Will she give in to the desires of her associates or will she stand firm by her beliefs?

"War? Is that all you men know?"

John Ford, director of Grapes of Wrath, Stagecoach, The Man who Shot Liberty Valance, The Searchers, Rio Grande, My Darling Clementine, and Young Mr. Lincoln, delivers Mary of Scotland. The storyline for this picture is interesting with some great characters but not overly compelling or dynamic. The acting is pretty good and the cast includes Katherine Hepburn, John Carradine, Donald Crisp, Ralph Forbes, Fredrick March, and Alan Mowbray.

"I know where you stand. I know where I stand."

This was recently on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and grabbed my attention since it starred Katherine Hepburn, who is always awesome. This is interesting and a must see for fans of the classics, but it is mostly dialogue and very straightforward and predictable. This wasn't as dramatic as it probably could have been. I only recommend seeing this if you're a fan of classic films.

"You were always afraid of me. You're afraid of me still."

Grade: C+
September 4, 2014
The movie is correct, but not good enough to compensate trying to transform a fight about power and religion in an allegate pro-religious tolerance and love.
½ October 19, 2014
Superb performance by Katherine Hepburn as Mary, Queen of Scots in this historical tale that firmly portrays Elizabeth I as an evil monarch. A good film but not that memorable despite the occasional flourish from director John Ford.
½ July 13, 2011
I love History and Katherine Hepburn
½ August 1, 2013
The Sound Stage sets and costumes work well, the story is too full of 16th century politics for the most part, although it does start to get interesting in the final quarter. Hepburn is good but not great as Mary.
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
½ April 4, 2007
A stately bore that is full of historical inaccuracies. Kate Hepburn puts on a good show but her Mary bears no resemblance to the actual shallow and conniving Mary.
September 22, 2012
This is the first K Hepburn movie I've ever liked--and trust me, I've seen lots of her films. I think it's because this is the first movie where I've heard her speak normally. And then there's the great historical story line.
June 1, 2012
Katharine Hepburn como Mary, Queen of Scots, que se recusa a curvar-se ao poder de Elizabeth. A maior parte da ação do filme (C) mesmo sobre o background da peça de Schiller, mas, no final, ainda que não se detenha nos mesmos detalhes da peça, ele mostra toda a determinação sublime de Mary.
May 31, 2012
katharine hepburn gives one of her most amazing performances in "mary of scotland". the film tells an interesting story, but it really is hepburn who really sells it.
April 13, 2012
Katharine. There will never be another her. The great ones only come around once.
½ March 16, 2012
john ford + hepburn=must see bio-pic
½ January 23, 2012
Moderately interesting period piece that plays more like propaganda than anything else. I'm not really sure what Ford was going for here.
½ November 17, 2011
Maybe If They'd Cast Her as Elizabeth . . . .

Much ado is made over the fact that Katharine Hepburn (herself a relative of the Earl of Bothwell, here played by Fredric March) ended up directing the love scene between herself as Mary and Bothwell. John Ford, director of the movie itself, didn't really know what to do with a period love scene in blank verse between a queen and one of her subjects. But this really raises the question as to why exactly the studio assigned this film to John Ford in the first place. I mean, this was well before he became known as the great director of the American West, but there's nothing in his history which indicates that this would have been a film at which he would have excelled. Three years later, [i]Gone With the Wind[/i] would go through several directors, so it's certainly not as though they couldn't have just hired someone else. And it's certainly not as though he was the only director on the studio lot.

This is, of course, the story of Mary Stuart, starting from the day she arrives back in Scotland after the death of her first husband and ending with the day of her death, though it glosses over quite a lot of what happened in between. She has the support of her people, at least at first, and she thinks she has the support of her nobles. After all, they're largely led by her illegitimate half-brother, the Earl of Moray (Ian Keith), and he wouldn't go against her! She marries Lord Darnley (Douglas Walton), even though she's in love with Bothwell, because . . . something. I kind of missed it. (I know the historical reasons, but the film isn't much concerned about those.) And then Darnley somehow gets all caught up in the plot to murder David Rizzio (John Carradine), Mary's secretary. And then Darnley is murdered, quite how and by whom is glossed over, and Mary must fight her nobles because they're angry at her over the whole thing for reasons that aren't very clear.

See, this is the problem. We're just supposed to go along with the fact that these happen, and it's never clear why. We get brief glimpses of John Knox (Moroni Olsen), but other than calling Mary a "Jezebel of France," and a mention or two of religion, the reasons behind the conflict are left vague. The fact is, it's all but impossible to get a clear idea of what the problems are between the various sides, because religion is vital to the history but mostly left out of the movie. I think this is because it was, after all, 1936, and the heroine is Catholic. The idea that essentially every villain in the piece was the "right" religion for the United States at the time is not one that was going to go over well. What's more, I'm pretty sure the Code would have had things to say about making a preacher into a villain and the reason for, let's face it, the total overthrow of a government. Which could not under the Code have been seen as a desirable result. At least not until they were making films about Nazis.

This is young Katharine Hepburn, who is still able to do starry-eyed, I think, but it's kind of hard to believe her as the total innocent Mary is traditionally shown to be. No, I don't believe Katharine Hepburn would marry someone just to appease her lords, but I think we have evidence that she knew how not to handle it. After all, Spencer Tracy never did marry her. Never divorced his wife for her. And she never caused a scandal over the thing. Biggest open secret in Hollywood, sure, but she didn't ruin their careers over it. Even young Katharine Hepburn would not have let her romance destroy everything she was supposed to be doing. Elizabeth (Florence Eldridge) is shown as being petty and jealous, but it's true that the historical figure had a greater understanding of the requirements of monarchy than most people in history. Elizabeth was, if nothing else, shrewd, and Mary never understood how the world worked, and that's why Katharine Hepburn was miscast.

The problem with any biopic is that most lives are too vast to be shown well in (in this case) 123 minutes. Yes, okay, a lot of Mary's life was spent in prison in England after her abdication. But there's a lot of back story involved in knowing why Mary ended up at Fotheringay in the first place. Mary, as she tells Bothwell, was brought out of Scotland in the middle of the night and taken to France when she was six years old, suddenly the queen of a country which was completely unsafe for her. There's a lot more to her than just a romantic girl, even if you believe that she was a romantic girl. (As I've said before, your stance on Mary will change depending on a lot of factors which may or may not have anything to do with the evidence.) You can't really make a romantic drama out of her story unless you drop a lot of the history, and it just leaves the whole thing terribly, terribly confused. The audience, too, you have to figure. It makes you wonder why they choose to try in the first place.
½ October 19, 2011
I've been told that John Ford didn't show respect to actors and maybe this fits in here as the characters in this movie are turhlessly handled by the social group they are associated with and have not much say in their own fate. Overall in the filmography there is lot to see, characters remain distant.
Super Reviewer
½ September 20, 2010
This movie is very long, boring, and jumps around in time. It does have some humorous scenes, but the movie is mostly boring. The only thing I liked about the movie was Hepburn's performance, she's great as always, but the rest of the cast kind of glides through.
½ August 12, 2009
Overall, a pretty conventional old-school studio biopic that happens to feature two of my favorite classic film stars. Mostly memorable for a scene in which Fredric March lifts up his kilt to warm himself in front of the fireplace, ha ha! That cad.
August 28, 2009
A good re-telling of Mary Stuart. I much prefer others but still a great film.
August 24, 2009
very good-amazing cast
½ March 10, 2009
I brought this movie because of my love of early Hepburn films while she was at RKO. March was great, Hepburn was great but the movie just didn't work for me it felt as if it was dragging on.
½ December 12, 2008
I am increasingly convinced that Maxwell Anderson is to the Tudor dynasty what kryptonite is to Superman. Hepburn is always fun to watch, but her perky and guileless Mary of Scotland failed to overcome the double hurdles of Anderson's lifeless script and Frederic March's ridiculous performance as the bagpipe-obsessed Bothwell. A pity.
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