Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Mary of Scotland|
Actors: Frank Baker, Robert H. Barrat, Lionel Belmore, Monte Blue, Barlowe Borland
THE QUEEN WHO WAS NOT TO BE...
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 09/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This early nineteen thirties film is a classic. It features a very young and exquisite Katherine Hepburn in the title role. Beautiful, unfettered, and but eighteen years of age, she arrives on Scottish soil unheralded. There, she meets with her bastard half brother, the Earl of Moray, sternly portrayed by Ian Keith, who has been acting as Regent on her behalf. It quickly becomes apparent from her half brother and the Scottish Lords that her reign will not be an easy one. Moreover, she is staunchly Catholic and Scotland is strongly Protestant, whipped to Calvinist fervor by John Knox, the Calvinist reformer. Yet, she, herself, preaches religious tolerance, but finds her thoughts on the matter rebuffed. Look for the wonderful Donald Crisp in the role of Lord Huntly, who alone supports her views.
She later meets the Earl of Bothwell, hammily and lustily played by Fredrick March, and it is love at first sight. Yet, she gives in to pressure and marries the Catholic, but dissolute, English Lord Darnley, foppishly played BY Douglas Walton. Unbeknownst to Mary, the Earl of Moray has been plotting with England's Queen Elizabeth to undermine her, and it is they who connived to put Lord Darnley in Mary's sights, knowing his weaknesses.
Lord Darnley, jealous of the Mary's affection for her Italian troubador and secretary, Riccio, played with touching loyalty by a cadaverous John Carradine, as well as of her apparent attraction to Bothwell, conspires with the Earl of Moray and some of the other Scottish Lords to have Riccio murdered. After his murder, Mary plays on Darnley's insecurities and together they flee the palace. Bothwell arrives in the nick of time to hold off the killers, while they get away.
Mary gives birth to James, the heir to the Scottish throne. Ultimately, Darnley himself is dispatched to his death. Mary and Bothwell marry and are hunted down. The Earl of Moray gives them terms that require Bothwell to go into exile, but promises that Mary may remain as queen. Bothwell leaves, but ultimately ends up in a Danish prison and dies insane. Mary, finds that the Earl of Moray's promise was a false one. His intention is to have her infant son, James, crowned King of Scotland, with himself ruling as Regent, until James reacheds his majority.
Mary flees Scotland and goes to England, expecting succor from her cousin, Elizabeth I. She finds only imprisonment. After years of house arrest, Mary is finally tried for treason, accused of plotting against her cousin, and beheaded. She died knowing that her son, James, would one day be King of England, as he was next in the line of succession, Elizabeth I having no children and not likely to have any.
This is a wonderful, classic film, with great, rousing bagpipe refrains throughout. Whlie it is a little hammy at times, it is still a wonderful piece of theatre. The cinematography is stark, almost chiaroscuro in effect, which contributes to its appeal. It is a very enjoyable film which should appeal to lovers of historical dramas and period pieces, as well as those who simply love a great film."
Katharine Heburn as Mary, Mary, quite contrary
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 05/15/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of my favorite stories about the absurd way that Hollywood thinks is that in the 1936 film "Mary of Scotland" starring Katharine Hepburn as Mary Stuart, her leading man Fredric March plays the Earl of Bothwell, whose real family name was Hepburn. But since Katharine Hepburn was a direct descendant, it would have been wrong to use the name in the film and suggest the actress was having a love affair with an ancestor. You just cannot make reasoning like this up in your spare time. Directed by John Ford, this costume drama begins in 1561 when Mary Staurt returned to Scotland from France as the Queen of the Scots. Elizabeth Tudor (Florence Eldridge), Queen of England, feared the threat that the Catholic Stuarts presented to the English throne. Consequently, "Mary of Scotland" is a story of political brinkmanship during the Elizabethan period. Mary tries to strengthen her position by marrying the weak Darnley (Douglas Walton), and putting Bothwell in the position of being her protector. She gives birth to a son James (later King James VI of Scotland and King James I of Great Britain), but Darnley betrays her to the Scottish chiefs in an effort to rule the kingdom and is killed. Mary's marriage to Bothwell inflames the Scots even more. Bothwell leaves the country and Mary is imprisoned by the Scottish lords. Smuggled out of prision, Mary flees to England and seeks sanctuary from Elizabeth."Mary of Scotland" is based on Maxwell Anderson's play, which had Helen Hayes in the title role on Broadway, although the original blank verse is eliminated by Dudley Nichols's script. The chief attraction of this bio pic is the final confrontation between Mary her cousin Elizabeth. Anderson is one of several dramatists who could not accept the historical fact that the two queens never met, simply because the idea of that confrontation is too good to give up. Under Ford's direction the film is much more about spectacle than history, and there is a nice scene when Bothwell brings in a horde of bagpipes to drown out the religious rants of John Knox (Moroni Olson). Many scenes are shot at night, to provide a somber tone to the story of Mary's descent and death. Hepburn has some trouble with the Scottish accent, as she would throughout her career whenever she tried to do something that covered up her distinctive speaking voice. However, it is the very idea of being a hapless queen that runs against the very persona of Hepburn as an independent woman. If you contrast the performance and the character from this film with her celebrated Oscar winning role as Eleanor of Aquitaine in "The Lion in Winter," you can easily see the differences on both scores. This is the most lavish of the costume dramas Hepburn did for RKO, as well as the most historical, despite the noted attempts at dramatic license. The result is okay, but not great, which is what you would expect from a film that brought Ford, Hepburn, and March together."
STORYBOOK HISTORICAL SAGA.
scotsladdie | 03/24/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Mary was/is many a school-girl's heroine and her story is well-known. Mary, onetime consort of the young French king, who had died prematurely, comes to Auld Caledonia, where she is the rightful monarch. To the south, her cousin Elizabeth, Queen of England, fears the threat the Scottish queen represents, as she is next in line for the English throne. Mary, a Catholic, runs up against the Protestant leaders and the power-hungry, recalcitrant lords. To insure the succession to the throne and enhance her position, Mary married the weakling Lord Darnley whom she does not love.....Helen Hayes had played Mary to great acclaim on Broadway; while this picture will never go down in the books as one of the all-time greats, it did, however, display Hepburn's arresting and distictive personality in a role that called upon all her acting resources - and she revealed herself as an actress of greater range than was previously believed. Ford gave the film careful directorial handling, and it was handsomely mounted in all departments. March garnered excellent reviews as the bold and dashing Bothwell. Both Bette Davis and Ginger Rogers (!) fought for the role of Elizabeth I which was ultimately given to Florence Eldridge (Mrs. March) who did a commendable if not brilliant job playing Good Queen Bess."
In Some Ways, Better than Vanessa's Movie
Linda McDonnell | Brooklyn, U.S.A | 12/01/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I have known about the existence of this movie for years, having seen a brief clip on a Katharine Hepburn documentary. The narration in that documentary included it among Hepburn's many failures during the 30s, leading to her being labelled "Box Office Poison". I was prompted to rent it as part of my immersion in things Scottish in preparation for a trip to that country.I was somewhat pleasantly surprised by this movie; in no way would I consider it as much of a dog as that documentary would have it. Hepburn is young and fresh--I liked her Mary much better than Vanessa Redgrave's in "Mary Queen of Scots" thirty-some-odd years later. This Mary is a match for those attempting to dominate her, whereas Vanessa's was always something of a weak sister. Like one of the other reviewers, I also found John Carradine's ill-fated Riccio to be a good characterization--what a woebegone love song he sings to the young queen.Dislikes? Weird staging is a little too stark for my tastes. This is clearly the same John Ford who made "The Informer" a year earlier. How did he break through and develop his other style, I'd like to know. Another discordant note for me was Frederic March; I particularly was puzzled by a scene when he's warming himself by a hearthside, but appears to have lifted up his kilt to relieve himself into the fireplace. I can't imagine that's really what was happening, but look for yourself.So, feel free to fling yourself into an easychair to see how Kate serves up Mary."