Queen Elizabeth I Quote
Bette Davis and Errol Flynn

Bette Davis and Errol Flynn
Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Queen Elizabeth I

Screen Queens

Since the advent of cinematography there have been a number of films made on the life of the Virgin Queen. The story of the unwanted girl who grew up to be one of the world's best loved monarchs continues to capture the hearts and imaginations of every new generation. Her life was one of triumph and success, and yet behind the glory there was loneliness and loss. The Queen's complicated, glittering, yet always inspiring, life, provides a wealth of material from which writers and actors can draw, and the enigma that was Elizabeth means that no two portrayals of her are ever the same.

The dramatic fascination with the life of Queen Elizabeth I began very soon after her death. Perhaps the first mention of the Queen in a dramatic play was the christening of Princess Elizabeth in Shakespeare's Henry VIII. Over the course of the next four centuries, Elizabeth continued to be dramatically represented in a number of works. Below are some of the actresses who have played the great Queen over the last hundred years, some now legends themselves.

Sarah Bernhardt

The first screen portrayal of the Tudor Queen was made by the legendary Victorian actress Sarah Bernhardt in the silent film of 1912 known as either The Loves of Queen Elizabeth or Queen Elizabeth.

This film tells the story of Queen Elizabeth's relationship with Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. It was originally a French production known as Elisabeth, Reine d'Angleterre, and was the most successful film of Bernhardt's career.

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Sarah Bernhardt Film

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Queen Elizabeth (1912) on IMDb

Ellen Compton

Ellen Compton played Queen Elizabeth in the 1923 silent movie The loves of Mary Queen of Scots.

Fay Compton starred as the ill-fated Scottish Queen.

The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots on IMDb

Florence Eldridge

Florence Eldridge played Queen Elizabeth opposite Katherine Hepburn's Mary, Queen of Scots, in Mary of Scotland (1936).

As the film looks favourably on Mary, the character of Elizabeth suffers substantially, and is more of a caricature than a convincing portrayal of the Queen.

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Mary Of Scotland (1936)

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This film is also sometimes available on eBay.

Mary Of Scotland on IMDb
Florence Eldrige on Wikipedia
Katharine Hepburn on Wikipedia

Flora Robson

Flora Robson starred as Queen Elizabeth in two films: Fire Over England (1937) and The Sea Hawk (1940).

Fire Over England has an impressive cast. Laurence Olivier plays the film's hero, Michael Ingolby, who is sent on a voyage to Spain, and Vivien Leigh plays a maid of honour. The story is fictitious but entertaining.

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The Sea Hawk is also a fictitious tale. It tells the story of a gallant adventurer, Captain Geoffrey Thorpe, who goes on a mission to destroy Spanish resources at Panama in the hope of delaying the Armada. It was adapted from the book by Rafael Sabatini. An entertaining swashbuckler that has a strong cast including Errol Flynn and Claude Reins. The film won 3 Oscar Nominations.

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Also available on blue ray: click here

Fire Of England on IMDb
The Sea Hawk on IMDb
Flora Robson on Wikipedia

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