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Lady Hamilton
aka - That Hamilton Woman
USA 1941
Directed by Alexander Korda
Running time 128 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars


A historical romantic melodrama that also serves as a wartime propaganda film, Lady Hamilton is an impressive production from Alexander Korda who also directed  Although this film was made in Hollywood, which explains its superior staging, Korda, a refugee from Hungary, was a staunch supporter of his adopted homeland and the film is very much about Britain defending itself from the Nazi threat.  Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh play Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton, the film, against the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars, focussing on the relationship between the two who, scandalously, were married to other people, just as Olivier and Leigh had been prior to their own marriage

Opening with a ravaged vagrant Emma Hamilton being thrown into prison she tells her life story in flashback as she progresses from being a beautiful 18-year-old “dancer” to keeping the company of aristocrats and, after the death of her ambassador husband, setting up house with Lord Nelson until his death at the Battle of Trafalgar. It is a lavish production that perhaps overwhelms the content but Leigh is quite ravishing as Hamilton and Olivier is suitably heroically self-sacrificing. The only real fault with the film is the rather abrupt ending which does not tell how Lady Hamilton fell into poverty or what happened to her mother or child. In fact although Nelson provided amply for Emma, the courts refused to allow her due and she died a pauper. Korda no doubt didn’t want to trumpet this side of British justice.

DVD Extras: Available in Shock Entertainment’s The Olivier Collection which also includes Long Day’s Journey Into Night; Q Planes; The Divorce Of Lady X.

Available from: Shock Entertainment

 

 

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