Bette Davis: Hollywood Rebel

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex

Bette Davis and Errol Flynn star as Queen Elizabeth I and her trusted advisor, the Duke of Essex.

Image from The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex

USA 1939
Dir Michael Curtiz
With Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Donald Crisp
106min
35mm
Certificate U

This fictional take on the tempestuous and troubled relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and the Duke of Essex chronicles the rise and fall of a privileged and popular member of the royal court. Davis lobbied for Laurence Olivier to play Essex but the role went to Flynn. For her own role as the Queen she researched the Elizabethan period to ensure that her look and accent were as authentic as she could make them in this, her first colour film.

35mm print courtesy of The Library of Congress