Saturday, April 22, 2006

DVD Review: Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex

Welcome back!

As promised, I viewed and will now review "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" (Bette Davis, Errol Flynn). Just to let you know, my DVD reviews will be short and sweet - I won't bore you with long winded reviews unless the film (or DVD features) really really impresses me!

Bette Davis stars as Queen Elizabeth (the virgin queen) and Errol Flynn is her love interest Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. When the film opens, the Earl is returning to England in triumph over the Spanish at Cadiz. There's only one problem - he never brought back the spoils of war (gold) that England so desperately needed. This sets off a battle royale between the two. Elizabeth sends Essex off to Ireland to defeat the rebellious natives there but comes home defeated himself. In the end, Essex is beheaded - and Elizabeth remains a virgin.

This film was originally released in 1939 - and only shows its age in terms of sets (fairly bland for a period piece) - the acting is still superb and the story engaging. Look for a very young Nanette Fabray along with a small role by Olivia de Havilland. The DVD transfer looked sharp - no noticeable problems here.

The DVD had an interesting extra - "Warner night at the movies". Introduced in a 4 minute segment by Leonard Maltin, the special feature "recreates" a night at the movies in 1939 - you would have seen a trailer for Dark Victory (another Bette Davis feature), a News Tone news update, a short patriotic animated cartoon, "Old Glory" starring Porky Pig, a musical short "Royal Rodeo" and finally, the feature film.

The DVD also had a 10 minute featurette about the off screen hostilities between Davis and Flynn while making the film - I won't spoil any of it here, but let's just say they didn't get along!

I'll rate this 2.5 stars out of 5 (my average rating is 3 stars). I'd recommend renting this for most movie lovers; purchasing it if you're a Davis or Flynn fan. I can almost recommend buying it for the extra features alone - I did find them fun and different!

Well, that's all for this time. Please be sure to leave some comments if you've seen this film or perhaps if you're a Bette Davis or Errol Flynn fan!

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