The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex

Director: Michael Curtiz
Year Released: 1939
Rating: 1.5

Glossy historical fiction from the earlier days of Hollywood, rethinking the Elizabeth story and having her (Bette Davis) in a relationship with the Earl of Essex (Errol Flynn) - it's the tale of a valiant pretty boy and the ghoul who will (eventually) have him beheaded. Much of this doesn't work: not only is their relationship visually out-of-sync but strains credibility (Flynn doesn't come across as power-mad until the end), the side characters virtually disappear (Olivia de Havilland has very little to work with) and the two main roles that are doted on are flat, especially a less-than-animated Flynn. I don't care what Davis thought in her later years w/r/t her comments about Flynn - apparently she took back all the negative things she said about him in this role - as it was her judgment as a younger woman that was correct … and even she's upstaged by her makeup.