Insomniac Theatre: “The Virgin Queen”

27 Jun

This feels weird.  I’m writing an Insomniac Theatre post at … 4:17 p.m.  This is, like, the opposite of “Insomniac.”  But the fact remains that I have a shit-ton of movies stored on Jeremy the TiVo, and I have approximately forty days in which to eliminate them.  So prepare to be spammed with random TCM jewels, dear readers.  (And when you get back from England, Sarah, is when I’ll watch Rubber.  Because by that time, I’ll have had enough with black and white movies and will need a decidedly weird and gory break.)

On the last Insomniac Theatre, I watched The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.  Which y’all probably realize, as it’s the post directly underneath this one.  Well, the night it originally aired on TCM, they did a double feature of Times Bette Davis Played Elizabeth I.  I figured, “Hey, why not?” and ended up taping both.  So … here’s the second one!


Seeing as how the last movie I watched had similar plot points (I’m guessing — I haven’t exactly hit ‘play’ yet), I’m just going to jump right into the live-blog-recap.  So, without further ado, the synopsis according to the imdb.:

Sir Walter Raleigh overcomes court intrigue to win favor with the Queen in order to get financing for a proposed voyage to the New World.

But … hm.  I hope Richard Todd does a good job, because for the past couple of weeks I’ve been associating Sir Walter Raleigh with Sir Vincent Price.  What kind of favor are we talking about, here?  Because all I can think now is that it’s going to be creepy.

According to Robert Osbourne, this is the performance Bette Davis preferred when she played Queen Elizabeth, but we have to decide for ourselves which is our favorite.  *shrugs*  Okay, Osbourne, whatever you say.

The credits roll over a rich blue tapestry and a sword in a scabbard.  It brings to mind the opening credits to Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, another movie I haven’t watched in quite a while.  That right there is one of my all-time favorite movies from childhood.  Speaking of, have you guys seen the stills of Angelina Jolie as Maleficent?  GOD I cannot wait for that movie.  Maleficent is one of my favorite villains.  I want to be her when I grow up.  I mean, she has minions, and she can turn into a dragon, and she has an over-developed sense of vengeance, and — oh, she dies in the end?  Yeah, but she dies with a SWORD thrown into her HEART.  Talk about a way to go.

Man.  I should really watch Sleeping Beauty again … maybe I’ll create a category for Movies Alaina’s Seen a Lot?  Because dudes, if I did that?  The inaugural post would be on Spaceballs, which is apparently 25 years old today. 

Oh shit the movie’s actually starting now.

In 1581 all the roads of England led to London — for better or worse

And there’s a coach and four driving rapidly through a rainstorm on a muddy road, and it doesn’t quite look like a British landscape, but what do I know, I’ve never been to England.  The wheels of the coach get stuck in some mud, and a dude jumps out of the coach to assess the situation.

“Tis but a pothole, Ned!  Whip them on!”  Okay, a) of all: I’m not sure that whatever those types of sinkholes where, they were called ‘potholes’ — I’m pretty sure that word came about later than 1581.  Of course, I don’t have an Oxford English Dictionary on hand, so I can neither confirm nor deny that assumption.  And secondly — in my head, I just went “Tis but a scratch!” and then proceeded to recite the remainder of the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  And that’s another movie I haven’t seen in a long time.

Everybody associated with the coach jumps out and proceeds to this big house about five hundred yards away.  When they get to the house, it appears to be either a tavern or an inn or possibly an inn with a tavern in it, because there are a lot of people drinking at tables in there, and also two couples macking on each other in the back.  Apparently one of the guys in the coach is a Lord, because everyone calls him Milord. 

What the fuck?  Some dude who’s been macking on a girl in the dark corner of this tavern-inn, when he hears the Lord announce that he’s on the Queen’s business he leaves the girl and asks the tavern-innkeeper why he’s not sending help to get the Lord’s coach out of the mud.  And the tavern-innkeeper says something about how he hates the court and they can all go fuck themselves (I’m paraphrasing), and then he punches the guy in the nose with his sword.  AND THEN THEY START SWORD FIGHTING. 

DUDES THE GUY IS SWORD FIGHTING A GUY WITH AN EYE PATCH.  There’s a joke in here about pirates with bad depth perception, but I think I’m not tired enough to find it.

The guy disarms the tavern-innkeeper — oh, he’s saying something about the Irish Wars, which tells me that this movie is supposed to take place after the events of Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex?  WHICH DOESN’T MAKE SENSE, because according to the timestamp in that movie, the events there took place in 1596!  SHENANIGANS

Apparently the sword-fighter was Walter Raleigh.  Anyway, he gets all the innkeeper people to get the coach out of the mud.  The Milord recognizes Raleigh and says that he can visit him at Whitehall in three days.  Raleigh’s friend tries to get more gold out of Milord, but Raleigh pushes the friend into the mud to shut him up.  Nice friend.

Raleigh goes to see Milord, and asks to see the Queen.  Milord warns Raleigh of wanting that, because the Queen is felicitous and flighty.  Or, rather, something about having whims and wisdom.  But Raleigh is determined to make his way in the world, so Milord sends him to a tailor to get better clothes.  Raleigh wants a pretty cloak to wear to the Queen, and is able to talk the tailor into giving him the French Ambassador’s cloak.

The next day, Raleigh strolls into Court as if he owns the place.  Geez, Raleigh’s kind of a pretentious bastard, ain’t he?  Anyway, the French Ambassador is there with his minions (AGAIN WITH THE MINIONS) and sends one of them to go ask Raleigh where he got his cloak.  The Minion asks where Raleigh got his cloak, and Raleigh responds that he took it off a guy he stabbed to death.  OH MAN THAT’S — that could have been a way better retort.  It’s good for a 1950s-era period drama, but if I was making that movie today?  The response would be I GOT IT FROM YOUR MOTHER AFTER I SLEPT WITH HER LAST NIGHT.

Because in my head, Sir Walter Raleigh is actually Sean Connery on Celebrity Jeopardy! in disguise.

Hold on — I need to YouTube that shit right now.

Twenty minutes later…
Oh right, I was watching a movie.

Forty minutes after that —
Sorry, guys.  I had to deal with a crisis that my STUPID FUCKING PHONE put me into.  Y’know, Phone?  When I say “SEND EMAIL,” that means SEND THE FUCKING EMAIL, not SAVE AS A DRAFT.  Also, I finally settled on a name for my phone: SMORON.  Because that’s what it is: a Smoron. 

ANYWAY.  So, Raleigh walks into Court, and then Joan Collins comes up in a breathy whisper of a voice, and starts asking him about why he’s at Court, and why he wants to meet the Queen, and then she starts listing stuff about the Queen as if she’s counting a rosary of pearls, and then the string of pearls breaks, AND THEN BETTE DAVIS ENTERS.

She asks if Raleigh is Joan Collins’s new pig, because she has strewn pearls before him.  OH MAN THAT’S ACTUALLY PRETTY GOOD.  Maybe, instead of face-slapping, this movie has good put-downs?  Bette has a more nasal version of her Margo Channing voice, and I don’t like it.  The Queen takes a liking to Raleigh’s jib, and she invites him to dinner.

On their way to dinner or to inspect armor or something (I’m not really paying attention, I’m half-inclined to send another text to a friend apologizing for the first which, to be honest, wasn’t really that bitchy in the first place) and there’s a puddle in the courtyard.  Raleigh takes off the cloak and lays it across the puddle so the Queen can cross it without getting her slippers or her dress muddy.  He’s going to leave the clock in the puddle, but she tells him to pick it up.  She then says: “I’m not sure if you please me or not, but I must admit you have some qualities the rest of the Court lacks.”  Raleigh is a man of many rare qualities.  His loyalty, efficiency, devotion, warmth, and affection, and so young!  So young and so fair!

Raleigh is having a private wine and cheese party with the Queen later that evening.  The Queen dismisses her guards.  And now there is a discussion that is riddled with innuendo: the Queen asks what Raleigh’s new campaign is, and he says it’s her.  Intrigued, she starts using citadels as metaphors for vaginas and is sorely disappointed when she learns he doesn’t want to sleep with her and instead only wants ships to go to the New World.  She’s so disappointed that he’s not trying to storm her citadel that she tosses her goblet of wine on him. 

When he’s done filling her wine goblet (not a euphemism) and exits the Queen’s chamber, there is one hell of a walk of shame as he strolls through the entire Court, who practically jump to avoid being seen with their ears to a glass on the door.

Joan Collins strolls up to Raleigh and gives him his cloak back.  There’s some talk about her pursuing Raleigh for herself.  Meanwhile, the Queen makes Raleigh the Captain of her Guard, which he didn’t want.  The next day, he’s inspecting his troops (again, not a euphemism) and Joan Collins teases him about being a Captain without a cloak.  Oh good, this movie’s only 90 minutes long.  I was worried, because I’m getting totally bored and it’s only been half an hour.

Queen Elizabeth is holding court around a rectangular table and then just BITCHES out the French Ambassador for a lot of stupid little reasons but damn, it’s good to see Bette Davis verbally bitch-slapping little men.  Sir Christopher, who’s kind of a rat bastard, implies that Raleigh’s friend Sir Derry is actually an Irish rogue who wants to murder the Queen.  The Queen orders Raleigh to send Derry to the Tower, but he refuses and storms out, after making a speech about wanting to live with ships captains and discovering new worlds and such.  The Queen feels faint, and so she leaves with Rat Bastard Christopher.

Raleigh goes back to his in to prepare escaping the Queen’s wrath when Joan Collins arrives and professes her love for him.  They kiss.  A town crier announces that it is 9 p.m. and all is supposedly well.  Raleigh is sitting at the window seat with Joan Collins in his lap, and I am appalled that there are no Dynasty-esque hijinks ensuing.  Joan Collins must serve the Queen for five years, as she is the Queen’s ward.  And there’s the possibility that the Queen could marry her off, should she choose.  And so, in a fit of spontaneity, Raleigh calls up the innkeeper and a serving wench and he marries Joan Collins.  They’re preparing to escape when the Queen’s guard comes along and arrests Raleigh.

The Queen is pretending to be ill so the French Ambassador can go tell the French Queen that she’s dying.  When the Ambassador leaves, the Queen sits up and is as lively as Bette Davis in the Theater Fight scene (you know the one — all playwrights should be dead for three hundred years!).  She calls for Raleigh to come to her and she tricks him into getting knighted by giving him a sword, and then she agrees to give him not the three ships he’s asked for, but one ship.

He leaves the Queen’s chambers and is announced as Sir Walter Raleigh.  He strolls through the Court — and look, I get that she’s a Queen, but does the Court have nothing else to do but hang around her bedroom?  Raleigh goes to find Joan Collins.  Joan Collins gets all bitchy on Raleigh for not standing up to the Queen and telling Her Majesty that he secretly married her.  Raleigh storms out after Joan kicks him out and runs into Christopher.  WHO SLAPS RALEIGH IN THE FACE!  YES!  Now, if only the Queen can get some face-slaps in.

There’s a prayer session just before Raleigh sails off to Plymouth.  The Bishop is as long-winded as the Holy Brother who tells King Arthur that he must count to three, no more, no less, when using the Holy Hand Grenade.  Eventually, the Queen tugs on the Bishop’s robes to get him to shut the hell up and cut the proselytizing short. 

In Plymouth, Raleigh is working on altering the ship he got to make it lighter and quicker.  Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, the Queen has laid a plot that will bring Raleigh back to the castle, and also, she’s shipping her ladies in waiting off to serve Catherine de Medici.  In Paris.  For two years.  Joan Collins looks pale, and there are insinuations that Joan Collins is pregnant with Raleigh’s child, of which the Queen is unaware.

Raleigh races back to see Joan Collins, who is indeed preggers.  She doesn’t want to return to the Queen’s court, so Raleigh comes upon the idea of having Joan Collins sail aboard his ship to the New World, avoiding the return to London.  She agrees to go with him.  But seriously, for having a lot of seamen in his history (heh), he doesn’t know that it’s bad luck to have a woman on board a ship.  I mean, seriously! 

Sir Christopher the Rat tells the Queen that Raleigh has a super-awesome bed in his cabin on board, and insinuates that Raleigh is going to sail away from England with his wife, Joan Collins.  But Sir Christopher the Rat goes to Plymouth to bring Raleigh back and when he refuses, he SPITS IN RALEIGH’S FACE!!  What the shit, Sir Christopher?  And now he’s trying to kill Raleigh, but apparently they’re both pretty good fighters, although this looks more funny than violent.  Especially with Sir Christopher jumping on Raleigh after he punched him onto the bed.

But in the end, the Queen’s guard captures Raleigh and brings him back to London.  And the Queen’s Guard goes chasing after Derry and Joan Collins, whom they find riding along the road to Plymouth.  They capture Joan Collins, and then a dude stabs Derry in the back while he’s swordfighting another guy.  And as he’s dying, he’s saying some shit about “not dying on a Friday, because it’s bad luck.”  Uh, Derry?  Any day you die is an unlucky day.

They bring Joan Collins back to the castle, and they call her the “Throckmorton Minx.”  Now THAT’s a name I’d love to have.  In fact, that would be my superhero name, if I had any say.  “Look, up in the sky — it’s the Throckmorton Minx!”  She escapes the guard as they, I kid you not, attempt to light a candle.  She steals into the Queen’s bedroom, which is especially brazen.  She tries to plead his case, and then she tries to plead her case on behalf of her unborn babe.  Instead, the Queen shows Joan Collins her lack of hair and also tells her that she was told at the age of eighteen that she could never have children.  I — really?  Was medicine that advanced back in the mid-1500s?  I mean, Jesus — I look at my country right now and weep for its lack of medical knowledge.

Anyway, the Queen visits Raleigh in the Tower, and after they have a fight at which I did not pay attention, she agrees that only Raleigh should sail the ship to the New World.  So she doesn’t exactly pardon him, but she does let him out of the Tower.  When the ship finally sails away from London, Raleigh is on board with Joan Collins — and the Queen says the same thing I’m thinking: Who would bring a pregnant woman on board a rocking ship? — but Raleigh’s also flying the Queen’s flag.

So.  That’s how the movie ends.  With very little resolution to what is a very sad attempt at a love triangle.  Oh, Bette — I had such high hopes.  Seriously, I’m going to have to watch All About Eve again to get the taste of this out of my mouth.

Grade for The Virgin Queen: Yay! It’s Over!

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Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Insomniac Theatre


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