Thursday, March 4, 2010
THE VIRGIN QUEEN
THE VIRGIN QUEEN (1955). Director: Henry Koster.
Ambitious Walter Raleigh (Richard Todd) makes his clever way to the court of Queen Elizabeth (Bette Davis) and becomes one of her favorites, all the while hoping she'll give him some ships to sail seeking treasure from the New World, and dallying with a pretty lady-in-waiting and ward of the queen, Beth Throgmorton (Joan Collins). Although he is not billed above the title with the others, Herbert Marshall, who co-starred with Davis in The Letter, plays Lord Leicester. This is an interesting and entertaining movie, but the central performance is a bit problematic. Davis has her moments, certainly, but sometimes you get the impression that the queen is not being played by Bette Davis, but by Baby Jane Hudson! A definite problem is that Davis, despite the quasi-British accent she always affected, is not English, and she seems to be giving an impression of a queen rather than simply becoming the part. In a word, she's almost awful at times, but not enough to sink the picture. Todd, Marshall, Collins [who actually out-acts Davis] and the other cast members are all terrific.
Verdict: Hardly Bette's finest hour, but not without interest. ***.