Young Bess

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 114
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Movie Info

This costume drama was based on the historical fiction of Margaret Irwin, which embellishes the facts of the early years of England's eventual Queen Elizabeth I. It's told in flashback style, starting with the horrible day when King Henry VIII (Charles Laughton) sends away the future queen, young Bess (Jean Simmons), and executes her mother, Anne Boleyn (Elaine Stewart). Some years and several wives later, Henry VIII invites Bess to return to the palace to live with Catherine Parr (Deborah Kerr), her new stepmother. When the king dies, Bess' young half-brother, Edward (Rex Thompson), assumes the title of regent. Bess falls in love with the Navy's top admiral, Thomas Seymour (Stewart Granger), but has her brother compel him to marry Catherine. After Catherine dies, Thomas confesses his love to Bess. But his scheming brother Ned (Guy Rolfe) finds out about Thomas' feelings and accuses him of seducing Bess.


Jean Simmons
as Young Bess (Queen Elizabeth I)
Stewart Granger
as Thomas Seymour
Deborah Kerr
as Catherine Parr
Charles Laughton
as King Henry VIII
Kay Walsh
as Mrs. Ashley
Guy Rolfe
as Ned Seymour
Kathleen Byron
as Anne Seymour
Cecil Kellaway
as Mr. Parry
Leo G Carroll
as Mr. Mums
Norma Varden
as Lady Tyrwhitt
Alan Napier
as Robert Tyrwhitt
Noreen Corcoran
as Young Bess (age 6)
Ivan Triesault
as Danish Envoy
Elaine Stewart
as Anne Boleyn
Dawn Addams
as Kate Howard
Doris Lloyd
as Mother Jack
Lumsden Hare
as Archbishop Thomas Cranmer
Lester Matthews
as Sir William Paget
Fay Wall
as Woman
Frank Eldredge
as English Officer
John Sheffield
as English Officer
Carl Saxe
as Executioner
Sam Harris
as Council Man
Raymond Lawrence
as Council Man
David Cavendish
as Council Man
Clive Morgan
as Halberdier
Charles R. Keane
as Halberdiers
Ian Wolfe
as Stranger
Reginald Sheffield
as Court Recorder
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Critic Reviews for Young Bess

All Critics (1)

  • Nicely mounted but fictionalized account of royal intrigues, in which Charles Laughton reprised his role of King Henry VIII (after winning Oscar for it back in 1933).

    Aug 17, 2012 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Young Bess

  • Nov 09, 2014
    The film contains just enough actual history to maintain a patina of truth but it's really more a star vehicle for Jean Simmons, she's very good, and on that level it's very successful. Laughton gets to chew the high grade ham repeating his Oscar winning role of Henry the VIII.
    jay n Super Reviewer
  • Aug 20, 2011
    Costumes aplenty here in fine colorful splendour as intrigue stalks the courts of England. The question as always: who's calling the shots here? Simmons and Kerr are ever photogenic and Granger can wear a costume with the best of them. The outcome, though Hollywood-ised, is history, while the film itself is only mildly amusing.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer

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