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Having previously portrayed England's Queen Elizabeth I in 1939's The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, Bette Davis reprises the role in the Technicolor-and-Cinescope costumer The Virgin Queen. Harry Brown and Mindret Lord's screenplay proposes that Elizabeth's relationship with adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh (Richard Todd) was somewhat more than cordial.
Raleigh is depicted as a charming opportunist, who deliberate leads the Queen on in order to further his chances of heading an expedition to the New World. Complications ensue when Sir Walter falls in love with lady-in-waiting Beth Throgmorton (Joan Collins).
Not to be believed for a single moment, The Virgin Queen works well on a swashbuckler level, with Davis outacting everyone in sight-even such veteran scene-stealers as Herbert Marshall, Dan O'Herlihy, and Jay Caligula Robinson.