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Saturday, 23 June 2012

Young Bess

Spotlight on... Royalty on Film

"You dare defy me? Yes, you dare... I'm beginning to like you"

'Young Bess' is the 1953 elaborate costume drama telling the younger years of Queen Elizabeth I, or Young Bess as she was called by her father.

Directed by George SidneyJean Simmons plays the virgin Queen, with Charles Laughton reprising his role of Henry VIII (Laughton previously played King Henry in the 1933 film 'The Private Life of Henry VIII'). The film co-stars Deborah Kerr  as Catherine Parr and Stewart Granger as Thomas Seymour.

This first rate cast is supported by Kay Walsh, Guy Rolfe, Cecil Kellaway, Alan Napier, Kathleen ByronLeo G. Carroll and Dawn Addams.

The film chronicles all the key events from her birth leading to her accession of the throne, including the execution of her mother Anne Boleyn, her exile as a child, her relationship with stepmother Catherine, and the death of her father King Henry VIII.

Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I was the daughter of King Henry VIII (the one who beheaded his 6 wives), and Anne Boleyn, who her father had beheaded when Elizabeth was just two years old. Elizabeth was known as The Virgin Queen, due to her never being married or having children. Despite her inability to bare children, I would question how virginal she really was considering the number of young men she had floating around her palace. She was one of the first powerful female leaders, and was even referred to as "a king in petticoats".

The role of Queen Elizabeth is one of the most sought after roles for an actress to play, having also been played by actresses including Bette DavisCate BlanchettDame Judi DenchGlenda JacksonAgnes MooreheadHelen Mirren and Vanessa Redgrave, just to name a few.

Concluding remarks

'Young Bess' is an enjoyable and fascinating film to watch, although my favourite biography of Queen Elizabeth I is still The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), starring Bette Davis in one her finest roles.

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