Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Queen Elizabeth I Take Two: The Virgin Queen

Two weeks ago, I caught the end of The Virgin Queen; the 1955 film includes Bette Davis' second role as Elizabeth I. It is often shown on Fox Movie Channel, and the next time I saw it listed--I recorded it. I watched it again in bits and pieces, to catch Bette's performance.

Bette is, of course, wonderful. I loved the way she shaved her hair to look authentic, as well as her powerful walk and regal gestures. Richard Todd is good as Sir Walter Raleigh. Joan Collins is fine as Beth Throgmorton, but her character is nearly insufferable for the first half of the film. Why is Raleigh so intrigued by her?

It's sad that the film doesn't celebrate Elizabeth's triumphs. Instead her tale is one of a lonely women without a man. I guess it was typical 50's fare--a woman's place is in the home and all that.

I'd love to watch this film along with The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939.) In that film, Elizabeth  has to execute her love interest. In The Virgin Queen, Elizabeth watches him sail away with his pregnant wife.

It'd be great to see how Bette's approach differs in the two films. Many considered her too young in 1939 for the part.

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