Victoria the Great


1h 50m 1937

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 12, 1937
Premiere Information
Made at the London Film Studios, Denham, England
Production Company
Imperator Film Productions, Ltd.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
Great Britain and United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White, Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

On 20 Jun 1837, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chamberlain are sent to Kensington Palace in London to notify eighteen-year-old Princess Victoria that her uncle, King William IV, has died and that she is now Queen of England. Her mother, the Duchess of Kent, tries to intercede, but the two men are able to see the young queen alone. Awakened from her sleep, young Victoria is told of her ascension to the crown. Despite the interference of her domineering mother, whose loyalty to England is questionable, Victoria is crowned Queen of England on 28 June 1838 at Westminster Abbey, with the help of her first prime minister, Lord Melbourne. Without an heir to the throne, Lord Melbourne convinces the queen that she must marry, and she is forced to consider her German cousin, Albert. Albert and his brother Ernest are summoned to England and, after a stormy crossing, are finally presented to Victoria. The two royals, though opposites in many ways, quickly fall in love, and Victoria proposes marriage. The two are married 10 February 1840 and honeymoon by train. While Victoria rules the country, Albert becomes bored by his life, for as husband to the queen, he has no power. When Sir Robert Peel suggests to Victoria that she share some of the burdens of the crown with her husband, she refuses, arguing that the English people would reject Albert as an interloping foreigner. Victoria's domination over her household comes to an abrupt end when the two argue over Albert's smoking, as Victoria has forbidden smoking in the castle. This becomes a battle of wills between husband and wife, not queen and prince. Victoria finally relents, and Albert soon becomes her most trusted advisor. On 9 Nov 1841, an assassin attempts to shoot Victoria as she rides along Constitution Hill, but his bullet misses as Albert throws himself over Victoria. Soon thereafter, Albert is made Prince of Wales. Victoria then faces her first political crisis, as a Chartist demonstration takes place just outside the gates of Buckingham Palace, and the young queen learns of discontentment among the lower classes. Peel addresses the House of Commons, and opposes his own party in support of the repeal of the Corn Laws, which taxes grain. While the taxes are successfully repealed, Albert is attacked for appearing in the House of Commons, and is accused, as Victoria predicted, of being an interloping foreigner. After twenty years of marriage, Albert falls ill. In his last official act, he stops a letter by Lord Palmerston to President Abraham Lincoln of the United States, a letter which may have led to a war between the United States and England in 1861. After Albert's death that year, Victoria goes into a thirteen year self-imposed retirement, but her prime minister, Gladstone, finally persuades her to take a more active role in the administration of her government. Upon the sixty-year jubilee of her rule, Victoria is proclaimed the Empress of India by her favorite prime minister, Disraeli.

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 12, 1937
Premiere Information
Made at the London Film Studios, Denham, England
Production Company
Imperator Film Productions, Ltd.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
Great Britain and United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White, Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to the cutting continuity found in the copyright records, the film "gratefully acknowledged" the use of Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace, St. James' Palace, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral, No. 10 Dowing Street, the State Coronation Coach, the Massed Cavalry Regiments, the original train of 1841, the original artillery guns of 1847, the actual carriage used by Queen Victoria at her diamond jubilee, and the queen's own diaries. Life magazine stated that King Edward VIII (who shortly thereafter abdicated and became known as the Duke of Windsor), broke tradition by allowing the life story of his grandmother to be filmed while three of her children were still alive. According to Anna Neagle's autobiography, the king was convinced to do this by his future wife, Mrs. Wallace Simpson.
       Life also noted that the film won the top award at the Fifth International Exhibit of Cinematic Art in Venice, Italy. According to Motion Picture Herald, the film was released in the United States at the same time that the play Victoria Regina was being performed on Broadway, with Helen Hayes in the lead role. Variety noted that the Jubilee sequence was filmed in Technicolor. Modern sources state that the cast includes: Percy Parsons (Abraham Lincoln), Lewis Casson (Archbishop of Canterury, Jubilee), Henry Hallatt (Joseph Chamberlain), Gordon McLeod (John Brown), Wyndham Goldie (Cecil Rhodes), Tom Heslewood (Sir Francis Grant), Miles Malleson (Physician), Joan Young (Miss Pitt), Frank Birch (Sir Charles Dilke), William Dewhurst (John Bright) and Ivor Barnard (Assassin). A segment from this film was used in the film Land of Liberty. According to modern sources, the film was released in Great Britain in April 1937. This film was followed by the sequel Sixty Glorious Years, which also starred Neale and Walbrook and was released in the U.S. as Queen of Destiny. The first half of Victoria the Great was spliced together with the last half of Sixty Glorious Years, and released in 1942 as Queen Victoria. Modern sources also note that the film was restored by the British National Film Archives in 1983.