The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex Reviews
Much of the drama unfolds on obvious sets, beautiful as they are they still look like sets. Same with some location work...its all obviously Warner back lots with the odd walkabout in California state somewhere, but you can forgive.
As for acting its the usual stuff from Errol, kinda wooden and kinda basic but always looks good while doing it, though here he is clearly outdone by Davis as Elizabeth. Powerful, forceful and most of all believable as the tough female Queen, Davis was deep in her character shaving her hairline and eyebrows for that true Elizabethan look.
Flynn and Davis did not get on well as I have read and the scene were Davis slaps Flynn across the face in the courtroom was actually a genuine slap and Flynn's reaction is quite real. He was pissed big time! classic silver screen moment. Davis storms away with this film though, Flynn is a mere speck to her thundering performance.
Along the way we have Alan Hale again, this time against Flynn in Ireland. Check the beautiful swamp sets for the battles in Ireland, and of course the lovely Olivia De Havilland as the lady in waiting Penelope Gray. Lastly enter the great Vincent Price as Sir Walter Raleigh, looking the part in his beautiful outfits and adding a unique feel to the part with his classic vocal tones.
Its all Curtiz genius again as he produces yet another stunning epic technicolour masterpiece. Nowhere near as much action and excitement as 'Robin Hood' but it actually looks MORE lavish than Hood if that's even possible. Plenty of verbal but its not boring in any way, the smooth bright dream like colours and grand visuals keep you watching. But like all Flynn films its not historically accurate so there is a little fun to be had, Hollywood always uses a bit of artistic licence, yet its clearly one of his more sensible films with little to no swashbuckling or shooting.
Davis hated working with Errol Flynn since doing The Sisters with him a year earlier. She was quoted as saying that when she had to kiss him she'd close her eyes and pretend it was Laurence Olivier. But I think Olivier might have had trouble making Essex a hero.
In point of fact he wasn't any kind of a hero. He was a vainglorious, conceited, egotistical cad of a human being who apparently only had talent in the bedroom. Now the bedroom part would have fit Flynn perfectly. But he became a military commander and leader and he bungled every job he was given.
(1939) The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
Well made, but care less about a fabrication relationship between Queeen Elizabeth (played by Bette Davis) and the Earl of Essex, Robert (played by Errol Flynn). Although both actors are good, watching this film is like being forced to read a well written romantic novel I wouldn't necessarily wouldn't want to read in the first place!
2 out of 4
In keeping with this, Bette Davis and Errol Flynn are not at all believable as the main characters. Over-acted, grandios emptiness abounds.
Despite the actors involved (the cast also includes Olivia de Havilland and Vincent Price), a very disappointing movie.