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USA 1936
Directed by
John Ford
123 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Mary Of Scotland

Mary Queen of Scots (Katharine Hepburn), sometime rival to Elizabeth the First of England (Florence Eldridge), is one of the most mythicised women of Western history. This version of her life, based on a play by Maxwell Anderson, not only works on our fascination with the historical reality of two women battling over a throne (the meeting between them at the end of the film is purely a script device), at a time when the expression "heads will roll" was literally true. Rather less compelling but, predictable enough, it also deals (and takes considerable imaginative licence with) Mary's romantic life.

The romantic aspect largely refers to Frederic March in the role of the Earl of Bothwell. Historically this is a beat-up and more damning, cinematically none too effective as March is neither a laird's sporran nor a convincing screen lover (it probably didn't help that he was married to Eldridge). Hepburn on the other hand, is surprisingly effective as the tragic Mary (she, on the other hand, apparently had an extra-marital affair with Ford) with the Irish-Catholic director ensurng that we see her as the heroine of the piece. Hepburn was more herself as Eleanor of Aquitane in The Lion in Winter (1968) but the film is still watchable for anyone in a golden oldie mood.




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