• Unrated, 2 hr. 3 min.
  • Drama, Classics
  • Directed By:
    John Ford
    In Theaters:
    Aug 28, 1936 Limited
    On DVD:
    Jun 6, 2006
  • RKO Radio Pictures


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Mary of Scotland Reviews

Page 2 of 3
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.

Super Reviewer

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.
March 16, 2012
john ford + hepburn=must see bio-pic
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.
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.

Super Reviewer

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.
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
April 10, 2008
I would rather watch every episode of Oprah while smelling Oprah's sweaty armpit. I would rather vote for Obama or scrape the burnt off of toast. To put it simple, no, this movie will not be watched by me.
November 3, 2007
Although I do love this film--in short it is a bit boring. I loved the period costumes and sets and the acting, but storyline lacked any real excitement!! Katherine Hepburn was fine but any real passion in the acting department has to go to Fredric March. The supporting players were good in their parts, especially Florence Eldridge as Queen Elizabeth. It is a nice film, but a tad too long and boring!
September 4, 2007
This movie wasn't great by any means, but it is well worth it to see Kate in one of her early leading roles. Quite frankly, she never looked lovelier. March was great as her dapper, handsome Scottish hero. Florence Eldridge turned in a nice supporting role as the evil, hell-bent on destroying Mary, Elizabeth; altough the characterization of Elizabeth, at times, seemed a bit over the top. I'm not sure why this film didn't work. March (who, as always, looked quite lovely himself) and Hepburn are convincing in their only on-screen pairing. The film seems to lack direction, which is odd, considering John Ford directed it. Overall, this is worth a look. If anything, it's worth a look just for the on-screen greatness of March and Hepburn.
June 11, 2007
she really is a queen
May 8, 2007
Seriously good but not a lot of fun.
May 1, 2007
Sounds good with excellent cast
April 11, 2007
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