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IanPatrickMovieReviews

"The Virgin Queen" 1955 Movie Review...Bette Davis doing Bette Davis Things!

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About time I did a Bette Davis movie review! She's absolutely the best! I'm dying to find a copy of "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" to compare her performances as Queen Elizabeth I! Plus my man, Flynn, is in that. "The Virgin Queen" started out pretty slow but got better and better as the movie played out. Enjoy the review and please like the video and follow on YouTube if you want to know when my vids come out instantly!

 

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It will be interesting to see what you have to say about ELIZABETH & ESSEX. A few years ago, I had made a disc of ELIZABETH & ESSEX and THE VIRGIN QUEEN which I called 'Bette Davis as Elizabeth I' then gave it to a friend of mine to watch. A week later she told me that as much as she loves Flynn, she preferred the second film. Her feelings seemed to echo mine.

 

Obviously, both films are big-budget affairs, given the proper treatment by the respective studios (Warners and Fox). But I feel Fox's VIRGIN QUEEN comes out ahead, because the editing is tighter, and the script has more layers embedded in it. Meanwhile, Warners' ELIZABETH & ESSEX relies a great deal on Korngold's score, the lush Technicolor and the personalities of the two leads-- at the expense of complexity and pacing.

 

Another thing I think the Fox film does better is how the 'other woman' (Joan Collins) is much more fleshed out. In the first version, Olivia de Havilland is absent for a large portion of the action and only turns up at key points. Perhaps this is because Warners saw their tale as a Davis-Flynn vehicle and only squeezed de Havilland into it when she had days off from Selznick on GONE WITH THE WIND. But over at Fox, we have Davis at a point in her career where she was a freelancer and not really a studio property. Clearly, Fox was more interested in building up their ingenue Collins as a brunette Monroe, or as their very own Liz Taylor type. So they made sure that while Bette's character remains important that she is not the sole focus and the narrative can be turned over to Collins at periodic intervals. And I think Collins shines with this opportunity. She works well with Richard Todd, as does Bette. Todd is a much more classically trained actor than Flynn, which helps with this kind of material, that can otherwise become stodgy.

 

But getting back to what you said, Ian-- I think that when you have the chance to watch the earlier film, you may find it a bit jarring. Why? Because it is obviously Bette quite younger in old woman's make-up. So the artifice is easier to notice and despite her stellar performance (she is equally adept in both productions), she lacks a maturity in 1939 that she has in 1955, which if you think about it, playing an older woman really requires.

 

I also predict you will consider ELIZABETH & ESSEX to be somewhat slower, because there is less action and a lot more talking heads, which makes it drag in spots. Of course, this issue could have been fixed with editing and with a script that played up the various court intrigues. At Fox, they played up the supporting roles and eliminated extra scenes that bogged the story down. But at Warners, they were playing up the spectacle and pageantry in costume drama, so they let it go on and on and on.

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I think it's interesting that you thought that Joan Collins worked well with Richard Todd. I thought she came across as a bratty childlike pretty brunette. I didn't like her at all and thought her acting was so poor compared to someone like Liz Taylor. Her voice is what really bothered me! Of course, Liz Taylor had already been acting for quite some time (and is amazing) so it's hard to compare the two. Maybe this is what the director was going for, but I doubt it...I feel like he would have at least wanted the viewers to love Joan Collins and want her to have a "happy ending" with Sir Walter Raleigh. She was definitely the "2nd girl" but in this case, I saw nothing likable...I at least like Olivia de Haveland when she plays the sort of "weak" female role she was given so many times! Of course this is all personal opinion. 

I'm excited to see Essex! I am a Errol Flynn fanboy so I might be a bit biased in my review haha but we'll see, maybe I'll side with "The Virgin Queen" in deciding which one I think is better. I definitely see your point about Richard Todd being more "trained" than Flynn in terms of acting, but we all know that Flynn had something special and unique that made him so entertaining to watch. Poor guy never had many chances to push his acting skills and showcase them. 

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Also, prayers go out to Joan Collins and her family for losing her sister! I may have not have cared for her much in "The Virgin Queen," but I'm sure she had some great movies that I haven't seen yet!

Yes, condolences to Joan and to the rest of the Collins family. When I was reading about them last night, I was reminded that Joan had starred in two rather tawdry movies in the late 70s based on some of Jackie's steamier books. But I prefer the earlier films that Joan made.

 

She's fun to watch in her ingenue phase in DECAMERON NIGHTS. Then, her assignments at Fox in the 50s, like THE GIRL IN THE RED VELVET SWING, SEA WIFE and RALLY ROUND THE FLAG BOYS. There was a loan out to MGM for the remake of THE WOMEN, called THE OPPOSITE SEX, which is a hoot. But I think she hits her stride in SEVEN THIEVES (1960). There is also a horror film she did in the mid-70s in England that is essentially a rip-off of ROSEMARY'S BABY called THE DEVIL WITHIN HER where she acts opposite Donald Pleasence. It's a cult classic.

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I think it's interesting that you thought that Joan Collins worked well with Richard Todd. I thought she came across as a bratty childlike pretty brunette. I didn't like her at all and thought her acting was so poor compared to someone like Liz Taylor. Her voice is what really bothered me! Of course, Liz Taylor had already been acting for quite some time (and is amazing) so it's hard to compare the two. Maybe this is what the director was going for, but I doubt it...I feel like he would have at least wanted the viewers to love Joan Collins and want her to have a "happy ending" with Sir Walter Raleigh. She was definitely the "2nd girl" but in this case, I saw nothing likable...I at least like Olivia de Haveland when she plays the sort of "weak" female role she was given so many times! Of course this is all personal opinion. 

I'm excited to see Essex! I am a Errol Flynn fanboy so I might be a bit biased in my review haha but we'll see, maybe I'll side with "The Virgin Queen" in deciding which one I think is better. I definitely see your point about Richard Todd being more "trained" than Flynn in terms of acting, but we all know that Flynn had something special and unique that made him so entertaining to watch. Poor guy never had many chances to push his acting skills and showcase them. 

I'm a huge Joan Collins fan, so I guess I tend to overrate her. But I enjoy overrating her! LOL

 

I was looking at Joan's filmography this morning, and it seems like THE VIRGIN QUEEN was one of her first Hollywood films. So we can say she was still learning, right? And it's interesting to note that she costarred with Richard Todd again, in 1968's SUBTERFUGE, a British espionage thriller. I've never seen it, but I'd like the chance.

 

On the other subject, if you're an Olivia de Havilland fan, watching ELIZABETH AND ESSEX will be frustrating because she is sidelined for much of the action. It is definitely not a Flynn-de Havilland vehicle, so it feels in that context like a letdown after watching their electric chemistry in ROBIN HOOD. 

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Haha I mentioned in the review that it was early in her career and that maybe she came out with better movies that I am unaware of! It's kind of like Gene Tierney...she got better and better as her career went on. After the 1950s is where my knowledge is a bit limited. I felt so bad for criticizing Joan Collins so much in my review lol such bad timing considering her sister's death! I posted the video just 1 day before she died! Anyways, it's cool how we are all fans of different stars for different reasons. For example, I never saw anything special about Cary Grant...he's a handsome devil and was great at playing the handsome guy...but did he really push his acting skills much? He had great movies! I mean come on, he was in "North By Northwest!" But I'd hardly put him in my top 10 of actors from back then...we all have different faves for different reasons...that's what makes these forums so fun! We can see what each other thinks!

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Haha I mentioned in the review that it was early in her career and that maybe she came out with better movies that I am unaware of! It's kind of like Gene Tierney...she got better and better as her career went on. After the 1950s is where my knowledge is a bit limited. I felt so bad for criticizing Joan Collins so much in my review lol such bad timing considering her sister's death! I posted the video just 1 day before she died! Anyways, it's cool how we are all fans of different stars for different reasons. For example, I never saw anything special about Cary Grant...he's a handsome devil and was great at playing the handsome guy...but did he really push his acting skills much? He had great movies! I mean come on, he was in "North By Northwest!" But I'd hardly put him in my top 10 of actors from back then...we all have different faves for different reasons...that's what makes these forums so fun! We can see what each other thinks!

Because of this thread, as well as Jackie's recent passing, I went on a Joan Collins kick yesterday and watched three British horror films she did in the 70s-- TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS; FEAR IN THE NIGHT; and THE DEVIL WITHIN HER. I just really developed more of an appreciation of Joan's talent, as well as her limitations (which obviously have not hindered her career). 

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Nobody's mentioned The Bravados in which she starred with Gregory Peck.  She is the moral center in this tale of revenge and does quite well as a Tex-Mex cattlewoman who loves Peck's character and tries to save him from himself.  It's hard to believe this is the same woman who "doesn't want to die" in Land of the Pharaohs.    

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Nobody's mentioned The Bravados in which she starred with Gregory Peck.  She is the moral center in this tale of revenge and does quite well as a Tex-Mex cattlewoman who loves Peck's character and tries to save him from himself.  It's hard to believe this is the same woman who "doesn't want to die" in Land of the Pharaohs.    

I agree...Joan Collins is pretty good in THE BRAVADOS. I like her in SEA WIFE, too, opposite Richard Burton.

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IanPatrickMovieReviews--"The Virgin Queen' is a film I haven't seen, so again feedback is limited:

 

Good job talking about Richard Todd--and you were correct about the Hitchcock film he was in, "Stage Fright" (1950)--it was his film debut, I believe.

 

Unfortunate timing, but Joan Collins was Not a good actress in her early career--her performance in "Rally Round The Flag, Boys" (1958) was her 1st good one (IMO).  

 

Can't compare films, but 1939's "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" is quite good.

 

You're gaining noticeable confidence with  each video review--Good job. :)

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