The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) – 101

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

I would not have taken that from your father the King; much less will I take it from a king in petticoats!


Welcome to today’s show, my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. You can also go to to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunes and give me a review.

Today’s movie is The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939). This film was directed by Michael Curtiz. It features another pairing of Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. Today’s movie is a highly-fictionalized version of the love/hate relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, the 2nd Earl of Essex.

I love the sword and cape movies. Errol Flynn is so chevalier and carefree. He is the perfect rouge. Bette Davis was really knurled up with make-up to take on the unflattering look of Queen Elizabeth. Her acting was very precise. Olivia de Havilland had a very minor role in this film but its a veritable who’s who of English male actors.
So on to the cast.


The great Errol Flynn played the Earl of Essex. Flynn was first covered in Episode 75 – Captain Blood (1935).

Olivia de Havilland played the role of Lady Penelope Gray. De Havilland was covered in Episode 75 – Captain Blood (1935).

Alan Hale played Earl of Tyrone. Hale was covered in Episode 80 – The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).

Vincent Price played Sir Walter Raleigh. Price was covered in Episode 45 – The Last Man on Earth (1964).

The illustrious actress Bette Davis played Queen Elizabeth. Bette Davis was born in 1908 in Massachusetts. Planning from an early age to be a dancer, Davis was bitten by the acting bug. After high school, she enrolled in John Murray Anderson’s Dramatic School. Davis’ Broadway debut was in 1929.

Her first film role was Way Back Home (1931) for Universal. However, this film and the next did not impress the studio. In 1932, she signed a seven-year deal with Warner Bros. She did much better with this studio and was showing her star power by the time she made The Man Who Played God (1932). Davis was also noted for her role in Of Human Bondage (1934) but it took until the film Dangerous (1935) before she won her first Oscar.

In 1936, she refused a role and was suspended without pay. This resulted in a lawsuit, which Davis lost. Maybe as a result of the lawsuit she started getting better roles such as Jezebel (1938). Warner’s would not loan her out for the role of Scarlett in Gone With the Wind (1939) unless they took Errol Flynn as Rhett.

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Davis’ roles wound down through the 1940s but she jumped back up with All About Eve (1950) for which she received an Oscar nomination. By the end of the 1950s her career had tapered off again. In 1961, she placed, what is a now famous, Job Wanted ad in Hollywood trade papers.

Davis received another Oscar nomination playing a crazy former child star in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). Davis had another big hit, it was Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964).

Davis suffered a stroke in the early 1980s. She passed away in 1989 from breast cancer.

Donald Crisp played the role of Sir Francis Bacon. Crisp was born in England in 1882. As a young man, he served in the Boer War with the 10th Hussars and later completed his education at the University of Oxford.

Crisp traveled to America in 1906 by ship. On board, his singing talents landed him a job with an opera company. He toured the US with the opera company and became interested in theater. By 1910, Crisp was working for entertainer George M. Cohan. It was during this time that he met legendary director D.W. Griffith. Crisp followed Griffith west in 1912.

During the early years in California, Crisp directed dozens of films and was in over 100 silent film roles. He played the role of Gen. U.S. Grant in Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915).

Crips returned to England to serve in World War I (1914-1918). After the war, he returned to directing in the US. Some of his best known directorial work includes Buster Keaton in The Navigator (1924), Douglas Fairbanks in Don Q, Son of Zorro (1925), and The Runaway Bride (1930).

Crisp made his mark on the talkies 1930s and 1940s, although he again took time off to serve in World War II (1939-1945), this time with the US Army Reserve. Movies during this period include working with Katharine Hepburn in The Little Minister (1934) and A Woman Rebels (1936), with Charles Laughton and Clark Gable in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), with Bette Davis and Henry Fonda in That Certain Woman (1937), with Sir Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights (1939), with the great Errol Flynn in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) and The Sea Hawk (1940) and with Gregory Peck in The Valley of Decision (1945).

Crisp in best known as the father from How Green Was My Valley (1941). Crisp won the best supporting actor Oscar in the John Ford directed film. However, my favorite of his is in the Martin Maher, Sr. in The Long Gray Line (1955) with Tyrone Powers and Maureen O’Hara.

Crisp continued to act and was a major influence in getting movies financed. His last movie was Spencer’s Mountain (1963). Crips died in 1974 at the age of 91.

Nanette Fabray has a small role as Mistress Margaret Radcliffe. Born in 1920, Nanette became a singing and dancing child vaudevillian. During her 20s, she began doing musical comedies. She tried film but never really made it big. Her most notable film role was in The Band Wagon (1953) where she was again singing and dancing.

In the 1950s, she turned to television and did very well. She replaced Imogene Coca on the “Caesar’s Hour” 1954-1957. She had her own sitcom, “Westinghouse Playhouse” in 1961. She continued to work on television and on stage. Her most recent stage work was in 2007.


In 1596, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, returns to London after a victory over the Spanish at Cadiz. The true cockiness of Errol Flynn comes through in his portrayal of Robert. As Robert rides through the streets, Lady Penelope Gray (Olivia de Havilland), Mistress Margaret Radcliffe (Nanette Fabray), and the other ladies of court look on. On another balcony, the lords of the court are look down with disdain and jealousy.

In chambers, Sir Francis Bacon (Donald Crisp) counsels Queen Elizabeth I (Bette Davis) about her dealings with the Earl of Essex. Robert enters the throne followed by the royal lords including Sir Walter Raleigh (Vincent Price). The Queen busts his chops about not returning with the Spanish treasure fleet to England. Robert tells her as a man he expected a different greeting. The Queen calls Raleigh forward and makes him commander of the guard. She promotes another man as commander of the military. He again appeals to her love and she says she has nothing for him. When he starts to storm out the Queen slaps him. Robert calls her a king in petticoats.

After some time, Robert sends her a letter telling her to take a flying leap. His letter borders on treason. She is also crazy in love with Robert. Bacon goes to see Robert and tries to convince him to take the right path. Robert admits that he loves the Queen as well.

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Elizabeth is back with her ladies in waiting and she is in a snit. Lady Gray has a rap battle with another lady and insults the queen with her lyrics. The Queen ends up breaking all of the mirrors and throwing everyone out. Mistress Radcliffe asks about her boyfriend in Ireland. They Queen says she will have him recalled. The Queen calls in Bacon and ask why Robert has not returned to court. She wants to orders him back, but needs to lure him to return. As she looks for a way to get Robert back, a messenger from the front in Ireland comes in to report that the English Army has been destroyed and Radcliffe’s boyfriend is dead.

She decides that Robert will be recalled to help with the Irish problem. When Robert hears of the defeat in Ireland he returns to court. Raleigh has a new suit of silver armor given to him by the Queen. Robert mocks him and gives the same thing to queens guard. He now has a true enemy.

Lady Gray intercepts Robert and tells him that the Queen plans on taking revenge against him. Then kisses him and is overseen by the Queen. Robert and the Queen get a little kissy face. It then turns into a verbal sword fight, but Essex/Flynn laughs his way out of it. They get back to the kissy face.

At the next privy council the Lords manipulate Robert into leading the fight in Ireland even though the Queen had warned him not to get involved. The Queen is pissed. The Queen gives him a ring that can be used to gain the Queen’s forgiveness.

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

In Ireland Robert feels he has been abandoned by the Queen as his fight the local Irish in a series of losing battles. It seems that Cecil and Raleigh have tricked Lady Gray into intercepting the message between Robert and the Queen. Robert is ordered back to London but decides to attack the Irish. With no messages from Robert the Queen has lost faith in him.

Rashly rushing forward, Robert’s army is performing poorly in the swamp. A peace commission comes from Earl of Tyrone (Alan Hale) but winds up forces him to surrender. Robert is convinced he lost because the Queen failed to support him.

Robert lands back in England and leads his army against the Queen. Raleigh secretly orders troops out to fight Robert’s army. The Queen refuses to defend the castle. Robert makes it in with his armed men to see the Queen. Robert tells her he wrote letters and did not receive any in return. She clears the room except for her and Robert. They work it all out and are about to get back on track when the Queen asks Robert to stand behind her throne. However, he wants to be King. She says she would not trust him as the King. She says he can take the throne but he will not have her. She agrees to share the throne if he will disband his army.

When he disbands his army, she has him arrested and taken to the tower. While Robert rots in the tower the queen waits for him to send the ring. She cannot understand why he has not done so. Lady Gray tells about the letters and begs for Robert’s life. Robert’s pride won’t let him send the ring.

While a mob is outside the tower protesting the execution, the Queen orders Robert brought to her. Robert comes into the Queen’s room through a secret stairway in the floor. Dracula would have been proud. She asks when he never sent the ring. He said it would have broken his heart if he sent the ring and she refused her promise. He says he would try to be King again and she says she loves England more than she loves him. So he goes to his death and she rules on.
Elizabeth was born in 1533 to Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn. Boleyn was executed 2 ½ years after Elizabeth was born. Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, was born in 1565, 22 years after Elizabeth. Robert’s great-grandmother was the sister of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth’s mother. Elizabeth ruled from 1558 – 1603.

Robert received a Master’s of Arts from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1579. His father having died, his mother married Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Elizabeth’s long-standing court favorite. Essex first came to court in 1584. He quickly became a favorite of the Queen. He was awarded Master of the Horse in 1587 and when his step-father died he was given the former’s monopoly on sweet wine making him very wealthy.

Following the defeat of the Spanish Armada, Robert took part in a punitive expedition in 1589 against the Spanish led by Sir Francis Drake. In 1590, Robert married Frances Walsingham and had three children. He also had one child with his mistress, Elizabeth Southwell.

Still moving up politically, he was made part of the Privy Council in 1593. However, he openly clashed with the Queen. One time she slapped him and he partially drew his sword.

Robert later became popular when he captured Cadiz in 1596. With Walter Raleigh as second in command, Robert disobeyed the Queen and chased the Spanish treasure fleet leaving England exposed to attack by another Spanish fleet. Fortunately, a storm scattered the fleet. However, damage was done to the relationship between Robert and the Queen.

In 1599, Robert was sent by the Queen, with an Army of 16,000 men, to put down the Irish Rebellion AKA The Nine Years’ War (1595-1603). Robert got bogged down in a series of fights in the south of Ireland. Losing two important battles, Robert made a truce with the Irish commander. The Queen was pissed that Robert made the peace.

Robert returned to England against the Queens orders. He burst into her bedroom early one morning and soon found himself being investigated by the Privy Council. He was confined to York House. During this time, Raleigh and other worked to insure he would not regain his power.

Robert began conspiring with the Catholic King James VI of Scotland about overthrowing the Queen. Essex was tried and stripped of the sweet wine monopoly leaving him broke and back in confinement again.

Having no money, he was released from confinement. He gathered his loyal followers and fortified his home. On Feb. 8, 1600, his gang marched to London and tried to force an audience with the Queen. His group was forced back and Robert was captured shortly after.

Robert was found guilty of treason and became the last person executed in the Tower of London on Feb. 25, 1601. It is widely reported that it took three strokes of the axe to remove Robert’s head. The man swing the axe had been convicted of rape earlier and was pardoned by Robert on the condition that the become an executioner. No good deed…

The Essex Ring, that could free Robert is largely believed to be a myth as it was not written about until 1623.

World-Famous Short Summary – Couple has a little spat that leads to tragedy.

I hope you enjoyed today’s show. Please take the time to jump over to iTunes and give me a review. It really helps get found.

Beware the moors

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Laura (1944) – Episode 91

Laura (1944)

Laura (1944)

I ain't afraid of cops. I was brought up to spit whenever I saw one.


Welcome to today’s show, Laura (1944), my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunesor follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. You can also go to to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunesand give me a review.

This is a very unusually film that is classified a film noir. The story follows a detective as he falls in love with a murdered woman. Director Otto Preminger added some odd homoerotic tension and many key noir elements are missing.

Let’s jump right in with the actors.


Dana Andrews was cast in the role of Det. Lt. Mark McPherson who falls in love with a dead woman. Andrews was first covered in Episode 4 – In Harm’s Way (1965).

Vincent Price played the role of Shelby Carpenter, a southern huckster that was engaged to the murdered woman. Price was first covered in Episode 45 – The Last Man on Earth (1964).

Gene Tierney played the role of top advertising executive Laura Hunt. Tierney was born in New York in 1920. Tierney had a wealthy family which resulted in her having a first rate education, including a finishing school in Switzerland.

Tierney returned to the USA and was performing on Broadway by 1938. Her very first role consisted of carry a bucket of water on stage prompting a critic to state “Miss Tierney is, without a doubt, the most beautiful water carrier I have ever seen!” In 1940, Darryl F. Zanuck saw Tierney in a play and she signed a contract with 20th Century-Fox.

Tierney’s first released film was the Return of Frank James (1940) followed by the release of Hudson’s Bay (1941). The next year she starred in The Shanghai Gesture (1941), Sundown (1941), Tobacco Road (1941) and Belle Starr (1941). Next, she was in the comedy Rings on Her Fingers (1942). Directed by Otto Preminger, Laura (1944) is largely considered to be one of Tierney’s best films. Tierney received an Oscar nomination for Leave Her to Heaven (1945). In one of my favorite films, The Razor’s Edge (1946) she played the spoiled rich girl Isabel Bradley to a tee. Clifton Webb co-starred with her in this film as well. Tierney was wonderful in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947).

Laura (1944)

Laura (1944)

Big roles such as Night and the City (1950), The Mating Season (1951), Close to My Heart (1951), Plymouth Adventure (1952), Personal Affair (1953) and The Left Hand of God (1955) continued for Tierney through the mid-1950s. A failed marriage, a disabled child, and some disastrous love affairs lead to depression and a hiatus from films. Tierney returned for Advise & Consent (1962) and was as great as ever. However, the demand was gone. Her last feature film was The Pleasure Seekers (1964). Tierney died in 1991 shortly before her 71st birthday.

Clifton Webb played the role of Waldo Lydecker, mentor to Laura and snotty columnist and radio host. Born in 1899, Webb was trained as a youth to act and dance. He left school at 13 to study music and painting. At the age of 19, he was a professional ballroom dancer. By his mid-20s he was on Broadway, the London stage, and silent movies. It took Webb a while to be in talkies because he refused to audition. His first sound film was Laura (1944). He appeared again with Gene Tierney in The Razor’s Edge (1946). Webb’s portrayal of Elliot Templeton was masterful. However, like in Laura (1944), he may have been playing a character that was close to type.

Staying close to type he was in a series of Mr. Belvedere movies. A couple of his more interesting roles include Cheaper by the Dozen (1950) with Myrna Loy and Mister Scoutmaster (1953).

Webb lived with his mother until she died at the age of 91. He died 6 years later in 1966 at the age of 76.

Judith Anderson played socialite and sugar momma Ann Treadwell. Dame Judith Anderson. Anderson was born in Australia in 1897. She started acting there before moving to New York in 1918. She did well in America and was a top Broadway actress from the 1930s through the 1950s.


This movie begins showing the portrait of Laura (Gene Tierney) hung over the fireplace as the credits roll. When the credits end the voice of Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) reading well-written prose about the death of Laura. He says he was the only one who knew her and he was just about to write her story when a New York City police detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) is shown waiting in the living room of the upscale apartment. The detective looks at a large clock and the narrating voice says there is only one other and it’s in Laura’s apartment.

Waldo calls McPherson into the bathroom, where he is lounging in the tub while he types on his typewriter. Waldo moves the typewriter and exposes himself to McPherson. When Waldo stands up McPherson gives him a much-debated look. We won’t find the answer here. Waldo is impressed when he finds out the McPherson is a hero and captured a killer.

McPherson asks about a column Waldo wrote and said a person was murdered by a shotgun blast of buckshot, the same manner Laura was killed. When McPherson gets ready to leave, Waldo wants to tags along. Waldo says murder is his favorite crime. McPherson asked if he was in love with Laura. Waldo doesn’t really answer.

The pair travels to the very nice apartment and met Laura’s very rich socialite aunt Ann Treadwell (Judith Anderson). Eventually, McPherson asks Ann how she feels about Laura’s fiancé Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price). He then asks if Ann is in love with Carpenter. Ann has been giving Carpenter money and spending a lot of social time with him. Waldo makes wisecracks the entire time.

Shelby comes in makes excuses for being at Ann’s apartment. Waldo says Laura was not definite about marrying Shelby. Waldo, Shelby, and McPherson go to Laura’s apartment to get a key for Laura’s cabin. McPherson breaks Shelby’s alibi and finds out that he planted a key to the cabin in Laura’s drawer. Shelby and Waldo almost get into a fight.

Laura (1944)

Laura (1944)

That night Waldo and McPherson eat out at an Italian restaurant and Waldo takes the tale back five years to his first meeting with the naïve young Laura. He sternly rebuffs her. Later he finds Laura at her office and apologizes. He then starts mentoring her and help her meet the right people to make her a star in the advertising field. Waldo picked her hairstyle and the clothes she wore. They eat out every night except Tuesdays and Fridays when they cooked at home. After a time Laura began canceling her regular visits. Waldo stalked her house and found out the man she was seeing was Jacoby the artist that drew the portrait. Waldo destroyed him in his columns and every other man she became interested in.

One night at a party she met Shelby who is from Kentucky. His redneck charm wins over Laura. Shelby admits he has no money and she gives him a job at the advertising agency. One of the models that Shelby uses is Diane Redfern. As Laura and Shelby become closer Waldo becomes more jealous. Waldo has Shelby investigated and tries to turn Laura against him. Waldo tells Laura that Shelby is also seeing Diane Redfern. Waldo finally shows Laura a cigarette case that she had given Shelby that was later pawned by Diane Redfern. When he breaks her down, Waldo says he is doing all of this for her.

Waldo and Laura go to the apartment of Ann and find Shelby dining with Ann. Laura slaps the cigarette case down and storms out. Waldo says on Friday of the murder Laura has lunch with Diane Redfern. Laura called Waldo and says she is going to the country to sort things out.

Back on the current timeline, McPherson begins hanging around Laura’s house, reading her letters, diary, and drinking her booze. McPherson calls the liquor supplier and asks if she ever bought Black Pony Scotch.  The housekeeper Bessie Clary (Dorothy Adams) comes in for her interview and gives McPherson the business for messing with Laura’s stuff. Bessie says Laura was a real fine lady. He asks her about the Black Pony. She says she found the full bottle on Saturday before the police came and the bottle had not been there when Bessie left on Friday. Bessie also washed the glasses.

Around this time Shelby, Waldo, and Ann show up and he offers them a drink of the Scotch. Shelby refuses the drink saying he is not a day drinker. Ann and Waldo begin to talk about the estate and Waldo tries to reclaim a vase, the matching clock, and a fire screen. McPherson won’t let Waldo take anything and he sends the three away.

That night McPherson goes back to Laura’s apartment. He continues to rifle through her stuff, stare at her picture, and search her bedroom. Waldo shows up and starts giving McPherson grief for invading Laura’s stuff. Waldo also reveals that McPherson has put in a bid for the portrait of Laura. Waldo says McPherson may have fallen in love with a corpse.

McPherson falls asleep under the portrait of Laura. The door opens and in walks a very much alive Laura who demands to know why the man is in her home. He tells her about the murdered girl in her apartment. When Laura changes out of her wet clothes, she finds one of Diane Redfern’s dresses in her closet. McPherson interrogates Laura about her whereabouts and alibis. McPherson finds out that Shelby has a key to her apartment. He also says the murdered woman was wearing Laura’s nightgown and slippers. McPherson orders her not to leave the house or call anyone.

As soon as McPherson is out Laura calls Shelby. They meet and then split up. McPherson follows Shelby and the other officer follows MacPherson. Shelby goes to Laura’s cabin and takes the shotgun off the mantle. McPherson catches him in the act. McPherson tells Shelby that he was in trouble because he knew who the murdered woman was. He says he took Laura’s key from the office and took Diane to the house. He says after three hours the doorbell rang and he asks Diane to answer the door. He heard the shot and then ran to Diane and never saw the shooter. Shelby was not sure if Laura did it and he was only trying to keep Laura’s name clean. McPherson also finds out the Laura lied about her radio at the cabin not working.

In the morning McPherson comes to see Laura with a big of breakfast to cook. Bessie comes in and freaks out when she see Laura. They then decide that Bessie should cook for them. Shelby shows up and is happy to see Laura. McPherson starts in on Shelby when Waldo arrives at the door. When he sees Laura he is visibly shocked and then faints. McPherson decides not to arrest anyone and Waldo plans a party for Laura.

At the party, Ann starts giving Shelby grief and tries to get him back. Shelby is riding high as he thinks Laura needs him. Oddly, McPherson is at the party. Shelby reveals that he went to the cabin to get the shotgun/murder weapon to protect Laura. Laura goes to the bedroom and talks with Ann. Ann says Shelby is right for her and McPherson is right for Laura. McPherson gets a call and announces he will bring the killer in that day.

McPherson arrests Laura for the murder. Waldo says he will use his column and his other resources to defend Laura. Shelby is dumbly indignant. McPherson says he wished Shelby had opened the door and gotten shot. Shelby grabs McPherson who returns a punch to Shelby’s midsection sending him to the ground where Ann is ready to pick him up.

McPherson asks Laura about the radio and she says she hired a handyman when she left the country. But McPherson is more concerned with Shelby and Laura’s engagement being back on again. Under interrogation, Laura says she does not love Shelby. He lets her go saying that she was never arrested and that he just needed to be sure about her.

McPherson goes to Waldo’s apartment and breaks in. He looks at Waldo’s clock and finds out it has a hidden compartment. Back at Laura’s home, Waldo is working on smearing McPherson’s reputation. Waldo says he and Laura will be back together soon.

McPherson goes back to Laura’s apartment. Laura sends Waldo away and he says he will be discussing great lovers on his show in 15 minutes. McPherson goes to the clock and finds the murder weapon in the secret compartment. McPherson tells Laura that Waldo was the killer and hid the gun after Shelby fled the apartment.

Waldo is hiding in the hallway of the apartment the same way he did the night he murdered Diane. When McPherson leaves to arrest Waldo, Waldo comes back to the apartment to kill Laura saying that if he can’t have her no one will.

At the stoop, McPherson finds out from the police sergeant that Waldo never left the building. The police bust in as Waldo attempts to shoot Laura. One of the police sergeants guns Waldo down. Waldo’s last words are Goodby, Laura. Goodbye, my love.

This very strange film noir lacked many of the classic elements such as harsh lighting. The hero was a cop and not a private eye. The lead female was not a femme fatale. Most of the scenes lacked movement and usually it showed two or more people standing in a room talking. There were heavy homoerotic themes in the movie. But somehow it can still be recognized at fitting into the film noir category.

Mrs. Classic Movie Reviews usually watches all of the movies with me. While I was reading New York Times reviews from 1944 and more recent Roger Ebert reviews she casually stood up at the end and said, “You know that movie is just a remake of Phantom of the Opera. Damn!

World-Famous Short Summary – Don’t judge McPherson for falling in love with a picture. You’ve fallen in love with a character from a movie.

If you enjoyed this week’s show please tell your friends and it you really want to help drop over to iTunesto give me a review. If you want to comment, recommend a movie, or just say hi, follow the links in the show notes to my site.

Beware the moors

Laura (1944)

Tower of London (1939) – Episode 85

Tower of London (1939)

Tower of London (1939)

You're more than a king, more than a man. You're a god to me!


Welcome to today’s show, my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follow the links to social media in the podcast show notes. You can also go to to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts. Remember this show is completely free and independent. All I ask is that you jump over to iTunes and give me a review.

Today’s movie is Tower of London (1939). This movie was set in 15th Century England. It has a great cast featuring Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, and Barbara O’Neil.

This movie was made by Universal at the same time RKO was making the Hunchback of Norte Dame. It was one of the hottest years on record and the actors in full costumes suffered immensely.

Basil Rathbone plays the role of Richard – Duke of Gloucester. He is bent on killing his way to the English throne. Rathbone was covered in Episode 9 – Son of Frankenstein (1944).

Boris Karloff played the role of Mord the executioner. Karloff was first covered in Episode 7 – Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

Barbara O’Neil was cast in the role of Queen Elyzabeth. O’Neil is known for playing Scarlett O’Hara’s mother in Gone with the Wind (1939) although she was only 28 at the time. Other important roles include The Nun’s Story (1959) and Stella Dallas (1937).

Ian Hunter played the role of King Edward IV. Hunter was covered in Episode 80 – The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).

Vincent Price played Clarence or the Duke of Clarence. Price was covered in Episode 45 – The Last Man on Earth (1964).

Tower of London (1939)

Tower of London (1939)


In 1471, Edward IV (Ian Hunter) deposed the elderly Henry VI to become King of England. Edward’s wife Queen Elyzabeth (Barbara O’Neil) is busy taking care of her three young children, two boys, and a girl.

The executions bell sounds and Mord (Boris Karloff) is busy sharpening his axe as a large raven sits upon his shoulder. As he leaves to conduct the execution, he casually stops to add more weight to a many being tortured. The club-footed executioner makes his way to the block where Lord DeVere is to be executed.

The old King Henry is being kept in the tower and he wears a paper crown and seems to not be in touch with reality. In a lucid moment, the old king says his son, the Prince of Wales, will return with an army from his exile in France.

Lady Alice Barton (Nan Grey) comes in to remind Elyzabeth that they have to attend the execution. Lord Hastings comes and finds King Edward fighting a practice match using halberds with his hunchbacked brother Richard – Duke of Gloucester (Basil Rathbone). Both Edward and Richard are champion fighters. There effete brother the Duke of Clarence (Vincent Price) looks on.

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John Wyatt is the cousin of the man being executed and he says the man was betrayed by Richard. He ask the queen for permission to stand on the block with his condemned kinsman. John and Alice are in love and she feels that it will cause trouble for him.

A sweep and his child assistant are cleaning chimneys above the execution.

DeVere gives a speech before the execution and it puts John in an unfavorable light with the king. Mord removes the head with one stroke. Afterwards, Richard pays Mord 5 pounds and Mord pledges his devotion to Richard. After Mord leaves Richard opens a locked cabinet where he has dolls of the king and everyone in line to be the king ending with himself in 6th position – old king Henry, the Prince of Wales, Edwards’s two sons, Clarence, and finally Richard. When he gets to the Prince of Wales says that the prince robbed him of the only woman he ever loved.

Alice and John lament that the king won’t give them permission to marry and that they stay for the queen. The child sweep falls into the queen’s apartment where Alice and John are talking.

John goes to wait for the king to ask permission to marry Alice. Richard comes by and then goes in to see his brother the king. The king wants Richard to marry an elder woman who is rich and well connected in the south. Clarence is already married to a rich woman. Richard says he only wants to marry the wife of the Prince of Wales and blames Clarence for the marriage of Ann Neville (Rose Hobart). Richard concocts a plan to make John marry the elderly woman. The king likes the idea and they order John to marry the woman. John refuses and the king has him delivered to Mord.

The queen is angry with the king about imprisoning her cousin John. The king agrees to exile John to France to calm his wife the queen. About this time, they find out that the Prince of Wales has landed with an army. Richard comes up with a plan to take the old king into battle to fight his own soon. Through Mord, Richard spreads the word that the old king has turned against his son and is working with the Edward side.

Alice sends a note from the queen with a page to have John dropped ashore in England but Mord intercepts the boy.

The Prince of Wales has left his wife, Ann Neville behind at a monastery.

The two armies meet at a bridge near Tewksbury and the fight begins. The old king moves around the field without knowing what is going on but he is not killed. Richard and the prince find each other on the field and prince is no match for Richard. Richard and King Edward are victorious.

Clarence’s wife is Ann’s sister. They try to help her get out of the country but fail. Since the old king did not die in the battle, Richard has Mord murder the man as he prays. Richard opens his cabinet and throws the old King Henry and Prince of Wales dolls into the fire. He moves the four remaining figures up the line towards the king’s throne.

Mord finds where Ann is hiding and Richard orders him to arrest her. She is taken to a cell and Richard comes and pretends to rescue her and says he will stand for her before the king. The king acts like he is enraged. The kings says he will release her only if she marries Richard. Richard pretends that it is too much to ask, but Ann says she willingly marry him.

The next day, the king’s youngest son, the Duke of York is being married to a royal child his own age. After the marriage, they announce the engagement of Richard and Ann. Clarence storms out but the king gives most of his father-in-law’s wealth to Richard. Clarence threatens the king and begins talking treason to the other lords. Mord’s spies overhear and Clarence is arrested.

Richard goes to Clarence’s cell and then tricks him into accepting a drinking contest. Clarence thinks he had got it made. They go to the cellar and start drinking and it seems to be the precursor of the Raiders of the Lost Ark drinking contest. Richard seems to pass out and Clarence celebrates until Richard gets back up. Mord comes in and true to his word they stuff Clarence in a vat of wine, staying true to his word that he would only use wine as a weapon. When the king is told that Clarence is dead, he says wait until the morning.

Richard goes to his cabinet and removes the Clarence doll. Now all that remains between him and the throne are his two nephews.

Tower of London (1939)

Tower of London (1939)

The years pass and it’s 1483. John is in France with Henry Tudor. They reveal that the king is ill and they worry what Richard will do. Just before the king dies he pardons John and says he and Alice can marry. He appoints Richard protector of his two sons until the oldest comes of age to be the king.

In his cabinet, Richard moves the young Edward to the throne and moves himself one step closer to the chair. Richard does a good job helping the young king and then he has young Edwards brother Richard come to live in the tower. Elyzabeth knows it is the wrong thing to do but she cannot stop it from happening.

When the young Richard arrives at the tower, young Edward is dueling with his uncle like his uncle and father used too. There is word in the city calling for the older Richard to be king. It comes from Mord and gang. The mob comes to the tower and calls for old Richard to take the crown. He says he will need time to consider.

John makes his way back to England and Alice. They meet with Elyzabeth and she asks John to help protect her sons. She wants him to steal the royal treasury and fund Henry Tudor’s army to fight old Richard. Elyzabeth gives them the location and they go and retrieve the treasure. Mord is investigating and finds that only John has left the castle recently with a cart.

Old Richard tells the council of the robbery and accuses Elyzabeth as John is brought into the chamber wearing chains. Old Richard tries to bribe John to find the location of the treasure. Richard turns John over to Mord for a torture session. Mord throws the whole dungeon at John but they can’t break him. The abbey where Elyzabeth is hiding is guarded by Richards’s men. They make arrangements to have Alice smuggled out.

Alice meets with chimney sweep and sneaks Alice into the tower disguised as a helper. She is lowered into John’s cell. She gives him a file and leaves a rope hanging down the chimney. He gives her the location of the treasure. John escapes and makes it to the moat where the sweep is waiting to take him away. Joh n makes it to the boat where Alice and the treasure are waiting to go to France.

Richard has Mord take his nephews to the bloody Tower. Young Edward is deposed as king by old Richard. Mord comes into the room of the two royals and he and his henchmen murder the two boys.

Old Richard moves his doll to the throne. In France Alice and John present Henry Tudor with the money.

When Richard says there will be war, Mord begs to come along. Henry Tudor and his army arrive in England. The two armies meet at Bosworth. Mord does well in battle, fighting like 10 men. Old Richard and Henry Tudor find each other on the battlefield. But this time, Richard is struck down. Mord flees the battle with John in pursuit. John stabs Mord with a sword and he falls down the hill. The unceremoniously drag old Richards body away.

Alice and John are married under the watchful eye of Elyzabeth.

World-Famous Short Summary – Couple has a few bumps before they can wed.

If you enjoyed this week’s show please tell your friends and it you really want to help drop over to iTunes to give me a review. If you want to comment, recommend a movie, or just say hi, follow the links in the show notes to my site.

Beware the moors

Tower of London (1939)

The Last Man on Earth (1964) – Episode 45

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

They were afraid of me... they were afraid of me... they were afraid of me.

The Last Man on Earth (1964) is a post-apocalyptic masterpiece starring Vincent Price. The movie is based on the novel “I Am Legend”

The Last Man on Earth (1964) Rough Script

Welcome to today’s show, my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on iTunes or follows the links to social media in the podcast show notes. You can also go to to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts.

This movie is the fifth of the October 2015 films all thought it may come out on November 1st or 2nd. The Last Man on Earth (1964) is an adaptation of the 1954 novel “I am Legend” by Richard Matheson.

The great Vincent Price plays the leading role of Dr. Robert Morgan. Price is the master of the macabre and many people incorrectly believe him to be English. In fact, he was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Price was from a wealthy family as his grandfather invented some kind of baking powder. He graduated from Yale University and then entered the University of London. It was at this time that he was bitten by the acting bug. He began working on the stage in 1934 and in the film with the Mercury Theater group.

Price had a long and varied film career. He was also active in television, radio, and music at the same time with a total of 199 credits. Like most actors, he started out as a character actor and his first role was Service de Luxe (1938).

He played Sir Walter Raleigh as a sneaky cuss aligned against Errol Flynn as Essex in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939). That same year he played a murdering royal killing his way to the throne in Tower of London (1939). Co-stars in this movie include Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff.

The 1940s brought Price closer to the type of roles he is now known for. Price was cast as the title role in The Invisible Man Returns (1940). Price was cast as the prosecutor in The Song of Bernadette (1943). In the film noir Laura (1944) Price plays the slimy boyfriend on Gene Tierney’s character Laura. In Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) Price voiced the part of the invisible man at the end of the film. Price returned to another costume drama as the evil Richelieu in The Three Musketeers (1948).

Following Laura (1944) Price had a number of film noir roles that included The Web (1947), The Long Night (1947), Rogues’ Regiment (1948) and The Bribe (1949). In The Baron of Arizona (1950) Price plays a conman trying to use forged Spanish documents to obtain ownership of the state of Arizona.

Price said Champagne for Caesar (1950) was one of his favorite roles. He played an out of work genius that takes to a game show to bankrupt a company that refused to hire him. The company responds by recruiting a fem fatal to knock him off his game. In The Ten Commandments (1956), directed by Cecile B. DeMille, Price played the head pyramid builder.

It was around this time that Price really got into the horror genre. Films during this period include House of Wax (1953) an early 3-D movie, The Story of Mankind (1957) where he played The Devil, The Fly (1958), House on Haunted Hill (1959), Return of the Fly (1959), The Bat (1959), The Tingler (1959), House of Usher (1960), Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Confessions of an Opium Eater (1962), Tower of London (1962), The Comedy of Terrors (1963) really a horror-comedy, The Haunted Palace (1963), The Raven (1963), The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), The Tomb of Ligeia (1964), House of 1,000 Dolls (1967), and The Oblong Box (1969).

Price also had time for some fun movies such as Beach Party (1963), Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965), and Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966).

Price was active in the music business for a time. He added a backing track to The Monster Mash in 1976, he contributed to Alice Cooper’s album (a collection of non-digital songs) Welcome to My Nightmare in 1975, and finally performed a spine-chilling speech on Michael Jackson’s album Thriller in 1982. This, of course, was the best part of the album and the video IMHO.

He did a ton of voice work and other media during his later years. His last major film was in Edward Scissorhands (1990) as the inventor. Vincent Price died at age 82 of lung cancer in 1993.

This movie was shot in Rome and the other actors are Italian.

Franca Bettoia played the role of Ruth Collins. She had 23 movie credits with the majority being in Italian. She was in Duel of Champions (1961) with Alan Ladd. Born in 1936 she is still alive.

Emma Danieli played the role of Virginia Morgan. She had 16 roles as an actress. She lived from 1936 to 1998 dying at the young age of 61.

Giacomo Rossi Stuart was cast as Ben Cortman. He had 92 acting credits but not much that would be known to an American audience. He was born in 1925 and died in 1994.

Umberto Raho was cast as Dr. Mercer. He had 130 acting credits. He was born in 1922 and is still alive.


The movie opens with a deserted city. Now that I know it filmed in Rome I can see the European cars and architectural styling. Unlike The World, The Flesh, and The Devil (195*) there are bodies in the street. The sign on the local church reads “the end has come.”

Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) is shown through his boarded windows sleeping. When the alarm rings at 6am he states “another day to live through, better get going.” The plague has been going for three years and it is now 1968. As the credits roll, he checks the garlic for freshness. Like Neville would do later in The Omega Man (1971) he has a generator in his garage. Unlike Neville Morgan has to get out and manually open his garage door.

In his yard are dead bodies. Morgan says they live off the weak one. After coffee, he broadcast on ham radio looking for others. He says they are repealed by their image in a mirror. His mission for this day is replacing the garlic. He is also using a grid to exterminate the others. He makes some first-class wooden stakes on his lathe.

Outside he loads the dead bodies into his car. He fuels his car at a tanker truck before heading to the pit that is still smoldering from the burning dead bodies. He throws the two new bodies in the pit.

Morgan’s next stop is the grocery store where another generator is keeping a large supply of meat and garlic fresh. So by now, we have enough information to know the others are vampires. Next, he goes to a mirror store. That’s something you don’t see any more.

Finally, he gets to his search, where he stakes a few vampires before hauling them to the pit. An hour before sundown he heads back to his house where he hangs garlic and mirrors over the boarded windows and doors. That night the vampires follow their leader to the house. They holler for Morgan to come out. He drinks and listens to jazz music. Seem familiar?

He wakes on the couch in the morning because of a nightmare. He rues another day. Instead of working on survival Morgan walks away from the lathe and travels to a mausoleum. Which I assume is his wife’s grave. He stays too long and it gets dark. He fights his way through the vampires because they are slow and weak. When he gets to his home, the leader and the gang are there. He fights throughout part of the slow group at his house and uses a mirror to make it inside.

Later he smokes, drinks, and watches home movies of his wife (Emma Danieli) and baby girl. He becomes very melancholy and does some crazy laughing mixed with crying. The leader and his gang are back outside.

Morgan flashes back to his daughters seventh birthday. When Uncle Ben shows up, damn he the leader of the vampires (Giacomo Rossi Stuart). I mean not at the birthday party but three years in the future. Ben shows Morgan a clip about a European plague being airborne. Morgan is a scientist working on the disease but so far they have not found a way to destroy it.

Morgan’s daughter and wife get sick but he carries on like normal. He leaves his family to work at the lab and finds out that America has lost contact with the rest of the world. Ben comes in and he is a scientist also. They talk about the pit where the bodies are being burned. Ben keeps talking about the vampires.

The governor declares a disaster and says all bodies must be burned. In the morning Morgan’s daughter goes blind. His life is sick with fear and he tells her not to call a doctor. Morgan leaves to pick up Ben and go to work. Outside soldiers are hauling away dead bodies. When he gets to Ben’s house it is the house that he has been defending. Ben has its setup with garlic and mirrors. So Ben preps and Morgan takes over his prep house?

When Morgan gets to work only he and Dr. Mercer (Umberto Raho) are there. When Morgan gets home that night the soldiers are hauling something away from his house. His wife has done the one thing he asks her not to do and when their daughter died she was hauled away to the pit. Morgan drives to the pit to find his daughter’s body.

His wife goes blind and dies quickly. Morgan sneaks the body out the house and buries her in an empty field. That night his dead wife returns to the house as a vampire and tries to kill him. Since Morgan is still alive he probably killed her but they don’t show.

Back in current time Ben and his gang of vampires are still coming every night to try and kill Morgan. The vampires destroy his car. The next morning he goes to the car dealership and says a convertible would be nice. Man, free convertibles are a theme. But he chose a wagon for hauling bodies.

When he gets back with his new car he sees a dog. He is happy to see something else alive. But the dog runs alway and Morgan can’t catch him. He runs by one of the world’s fair spaceships from Men in Black and sees some bodies that have been killed with iron stakes. He now knows others are alive but doesn’t know why he hasn’t seen them. The dog shows back up but it’s wounded. After being happy that the dog is there Morgan checks its blood and dog has the virus. In the morning Morgan buries the staked dog. When he finishes he looks up and sees a girl dressed like a hipster. He chases her and then she follows Morgan back to the house.

The girl introduces herself as Ruth Collins (Franca Bettoia). He stuffs garlic in her face and she reacts badly. She says it’s a weak stomach. He wants to give her a blood test but she refuses. Good old Ben and his gang show up and start hitting the house with sticks.

He says he may be immunity because he was bitten by a vampire bat in Panama.

Ruth goes in her room and fails the vampire test, remember from Billy the Kid Versus Dracula. Morgan walks in and Ruth is getting ready to take a vaccine that holds of the disease. Her society is organized and wants to rebuild. She tells him he is a monster to her people and that many of the ones he killed were still alive. Ruth says her people are coming to kill him and she pulls a gun. Then she passes out.

While Ruth is out Morgan gives her a direct transfusion curing her of the disease. He gives her the vampire test with a mirror and she passes. He double checks with the garlic. About this time Ben breaks into the house and drags Ruth outside where he bites her. Just at that time Ruth’s people show up and kill the vampires around the house. They shoot Ben off the roof and begin chasing Morgan ignoring Ruth’s feeble cries.

Morgan makes it to the armory where he gets tear gas and escapes on the ledge. The gang chases him to a church as Morgan throws tear gas and fires back with Ruth’s gun. Morgan is wounded in the side but makes it inside the church. He staggers onto the altar before giving them a tirade. One of the men throws a spear into Morgan’s chest. He dies as Ruth says they didn’t know. Ruth stops by a crying baby and says don’t cry were all safe now.

The author of the novel I Am Legend (1954) worked on the movie script but was not happy so he used an assumed name. Director George A. Romero stated that this movie was the model for Night of the Living Dead (1968).

World-Famous Short Summary – Widowers miss their chance for happiness because her friends don’t approve.

If you enjoyed this week’s show please tell your friends and it you really want to help drop over to iTunes to give me a review. If you want to comment, recommend a movie, or just say hi, follow the links in the show notes to my site.

Beware the moors