The Divine Lady

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The Divine Lady
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frank Lloyd
Produced by Frank Lloyd
Walter Morosco
Richard A. Rowland
Written by Forrest Halsey
Harry Carr (intertitles)
Based on The Divine Lady: a Romance of Nelson and Emma Hamilton
by E. Barrington
Starring Corinne Griffith
Victor Varconi
H.B. Warner
Ian Keith
Music by Cecil Copping
Cinematography John F. Seitz
Edited by Hugh Bennett
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • March 31, 1929 (1929-03-31)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Divine Lady is a 1929 American Vitaphone sound film with a synchronized musical score, sound effects, and some synchronized singing, but no spoken dialogue. It tells the story of the love affair between Horatio Nelson and Emma Hamilton. It featured the theme song "Lady Divine", with lyrics by Richard Kountz and music by Nathaniel Shilkret, which became a popular hit in 1929 and was recorded by numerous artists, such as Shilkret, Frank Munn, Ben Selvin (as the Cavaliers), Smith Ballew, Adrian Schubert, Sam Lanin, and Bob Haring.

The film was adapted by Harry Carr, Forrest Halsey, Agnes Christine Johnston, and Edwin Justus Mayer from the novel The Divine Lady: A Romance of Nelson and Emma Hamilton by E. Barrington. It was directed by Frank Lloyd.

The film won the Academy Award for Directing and was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Corinne Griffith) and Best Cinematography.[1] It is the only film to be awarded Best Director without a Best Picture nomination (one year earlier, Two Arabian Knights was awarded for Best Director of a Comedy Picture without being nominated for Best Picture).[citation needed]


In the late eighteenth century, Lady Hamilton has had a somewhat turbulent relationship with the British people, especially the aristocracy. Born Emma Hart from a very humble background (she being the daughter of a cook), she was seen as being vulgar by the rich, but equally captivating for her beauty. In a move to protect his inheritance, Honorable Charles Greville, Emma's then lover and her mother's employer, sent Emma to Naples under false pretenses to live with his uncle, Sir William Hamilton, where she would study to become a lady. Surprisingly to Greville whose deception Emma would eventually discover, Emma ended up becoming Hamilton's wife in a marriage of convenience. But it is Emma's eventual relationship with Horatio Nelson of the British navy that would cause the largest issue. A move by Lady Hamilton helped Nelson's armada defeat Napoleon's fleet in naval battles, which Nelson would have ultimately lost without Lady Hamilton's help. Beyond the dangers of war, Lady Hamilton and Nelson's relationship is ultimately threatened by the court of public opinion as both are married to other people.


Preservation status[edit]

The film still survives intact along with its Vitaphone soundtrack. This film was a joint preservation project of the UCLA Film and Television Archive and the Museum of Modern Art Department of Film in cooperation with the Czechoslovak Film Archive. It was restored in conjunction with the project American Moviemakers: The Dawn of Sound.[2]

Home media[edit]

In 2009, the film was released on manufactured-on-demand DVD by the Warner Archive Collection.


  1. ^ The Divine Lady at database; accessed October 25, 2015.
  2. ^ "The Divine Lady". 1 January 2000 – via IMDb. 

External links[edit]