Fire Over England
|Fire Over England|
|Directed by||William K. Howard|
|Produced by||Erich Pommer
|Screenplay by||Clemence Dane
|Based on||Fire Over England
by A. E. W. Mason
|Music by||Richard Addinsell|
|Cinematography||James Wong Howe|
|Edited by||Jack Dennis|
|London Film Productions|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Release date(s)||5 March 1937|
|Running time||92 min.|
Fire Over England is a 1937 London Film Productions' film drama, notable for providing the first pairing of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. It was directed by William K. Howard and written by Clemence Dane from the novel Fire Over England by A. E. W. Mason. Leigh's performance in the movie helped to convince David O. Selznick to cast her as Scarlett O'Hara in his production of Gone with the Wind.
In 1588, relations between Spain and England are at the breaking point. With the support of Queen Elizabeth I (Flora Robson), English sea raiders such as Sir Francis Drake regularly capture Spanish merchantmen bringing gold from the New World.
Elizabeth's chief advisors are the lord treasurer, Lord Burleigh (Morton Selten), and her longtime admirer, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (Leslie Banks). Burleigh's beautiful but featherbrained granddaughter Cynthia (Vivien Leigh) is one of Elizabeth's ladies-in-waiting, and the aging queen is plagued with jealousy of the girl's attractiveness and vitality.
In a sea battle between the Spanish, led by Don Miguel (Robert Rendel), and the English, led by his old friend Sir Richard Ingolby (Lyn Harding) the English are captured. Miguel arranges for Richard's son Michael (Laurence Olivier) to escape. Michael washes ashore on Miguel's estate, and his wounds are tended to by Miguel's daughter Elena (Tamara Desni), who quickly becomes enamoured of the handsome Englishman. As the months pass, Michael recovers and laments being apart from Cynthia, his sweetheart, but is nonetheless impressed by Elena's charms.
Miguel brings Michael the sad news that Sir Richard, his father, has been executed as a heretic. The grieving Michael denounces his rescuers and flees to England in a small fishing boat. When he is granted an audience with the Queen he urges her to fight the Spanish menace by whatever means necessary, and swears undying loyalty to her. Elizabeth is flattered by the young man's fervent devotion and later has an opportunity to take advantage of his offer of service when Hillary Vane (James Mason), an Englishman spying for Spain, is killed before the names of his English co-conspirators can be uncovered.
Michael, disguised as Vane, goes to the court of King Philip II of Spain (Raymond Massey) to get the letters that will set into motion a plan to assassinate Elizabeth. At the palace Michael meets Elena. Her father has been killed by the English and she is now married to Don Pedro (Robert Newton), the palace governor. Elena keeps Michael's identity a secret as long as she can, but finally must tell her husband out of loyalty to him.
Philip sees through Michael's disguise and orders his arrest. Pedro helps him escape so that it will not be discovered that his wife aided a heretic. While Michael is returning home, the Spanish Armada sails against England and Elizabeth joins her army in Tilbury. Michael meets her there and reveals the names of the traitors. Elizabeth knights Michael and then confronts the six traitors and tells them to fulfill their plot and kill her. They are overwhelmed with shame and agree to go with Michael on a dangerous mission, using fire ships to make a night attack on the Armada, which is massed off the coast of England.
The mission is successful as Michael and his men set the Armada aflame and then safely return. Elizabeth allows Michael and Cynthia to be wed, and after sadly ordering all mirrors to be removed from her rooms, greets her adoring subjects.
- Flora Robson as Queen Elizabeth I of England
- Raymond Massey as King Philip II of Spain
- Leslie Banks as 'Robin', the Earl of Leicester
- Laurence Olivier as Michael Ingolby
- Vivien Leigh as Cynthia
- Morton Selten as Lord Burleigh
- Tamara Desni as Elena
- Lyn Harding as Sir Richard Ingolby
- George Thirlwell as Mr. Lawrence Gregory
- Henry Oscar as Spanish Ambassador
- Robert Rendel as Don Miguel
- Robert Newton as Don Pedro
- Donald Calthrop as Don Escobal
- Charles Carson as Adm. Valdez
- James Mason (uncredited) as Hillary Vane, an English traitor (first speaker in the film).
- The Great British Films, pp 36–38, Jerry Vermilye, 1978, Citadel Press, ISBN 0-8065-0661-X
- Fire Over England at the Internet Movie Database
- Fire Over England at the TCM Movie Database
- Fire Over England at AllMovie
- Fire Over England at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Fire Over England is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- Film at Free Full Videos .co.nr