25 thoughts on “Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII: The Frock Flicks Guide

  1. I’ve seen all of these save for Any Human Heart and the ones that focus on Wallis and Edward tend to overly-sentimentalize the pair in order to emphasize their “legendary” romance, which ignores the fact that they were both objectively terrible people with horrible personalities, and it’s debatable how romantic their relationship even was.

    I only got through about half of Edward and Mrs. Simpson when it was on Netflix ages ago and I found it very tedious, although the costumes were nice.

    And I have to reiterate a comment I left on another post here while ago: W.E. is one of the most inept attempts at film-making I’ve ever seen. Stunning production values wasted on a director who clearly had no idea what she was doing. Bloop.

    1. I only got thru about half of Edward & Mrs. Simpson as well — in trying to cover every tiny bit of history, it just becomes dull. Opposite of the American productions, which shorten the story into just Romance! & Drama!

      And, oh yes, Wallis & Edward do sound like terrible people. I think the scenes in The Crown come closest to showing them realistically as petulant schemers.

    2. That’s also the reason I don’t really like to watch movies about them. I did enjoy Bertie and Elizabeth (also on youtube afaik) a lot. They are more or less cast as the villains in that one. :P

  2. The ‘Wallis & Edward’ [2005] was good: costume wise…had an overall authentic feel. But indeed made it feel like it all came from his side. Like she was innocent in it all. He became very obsessive & possessive and almost threatened “to do himself in” because he couldn’t live without her love!?!
    But that was also some of the feeling I got from Guy Pearse in ‘The King’s Speech’: of Edward behaving/acting childishly obsessed & spoiled.
    Made me think about the scandalous leaked taped secret phone conversations between a then married Prince Charles & divorcee Camilla Parker Bowles. [Wanting to be her Tampon!!!]
    ‘W.E.’ is sooo bad!! Such a waste of time & money and beautiful things & great “royal” costumes.
    Ripe for SNARK week indeed.
    Would love to see ‘Any Human Heart’ great overall cast.

    1. As a historian I can confim that Wallis & Edward was actually based on Mrs. Simpson’s own personal letters including those to he ex-husband whom she never stopped loving. Here is an excellent documentary on her letters. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Swd3ISRF_wY The letters shown have been authenticated. Really does turn the myth on is head.

    2. RE: the Wallis/Edward Charles/Camilla comparison – its appros therefore that Alex Jennings also is Prince Charles in “The Queen” (the one with Helen Mirren as QE2)

  3. I’m old enough to remember the one with Edward Fox, and I feel as though he nailed it. Such a wonderfully abhorrent couple, with the best clothes and jewels?

    1. Edward Fox was quite good looking, wasn’t he. I also remember this one, although I caught it later on. It was so fabulous, like 1930’s Dynasty.

    2. So am I … and after watching that series, I disliked them both very intensely. Of course, it only developed later on what thoroughly awful people they both were. I wonder if the writers and actors had subconsciously picked up on those qualities.

  4. I watched most of these. You explained the appeal really well. They were pretty awful and also glamorous AF.

  5. Not a fan of either of them, but I’ve always felt a bit sorry for Wallis Simpson. I think she would have been happy to have a glorious, lucrative affair and gracefully bowed out when someone else took his fancy……….that was the plan, but she was badgered into a situation she didn’t want and had no appetite for. She was beautifully dressed and bejewelled for the rest of her life, mixing with amazing people, but at what cost?

  6. Great romance are you kidding? Edward did love her but Wallis grew to dislike the man and was often annoyed by him. I’ve always found their story to be a depressing one.

  7. They were horrible people, no doubt.
    But the British Secret Service did its best to diss them, and spread rumours, like the one about Wallis and the Tantric Sex techniques.
    I don’t think she wanted to be Queen, and I don’t think she wanted to marry him. He was just one of her conquests. There’s some evidence that she loved Edward Simpson the most. They certainly kept in touch after the divorce and were on very friendly terms.
    Apart from his stubbornness, which Stanley Baldwin said made him impossible to handle, Edward might have made a decent King. He wasn’t bright, but he was good looking, and he could have done all the state stuff. He’d have lapped it up.
    But she led him into meeting Hitler, although he was willing enough. I think that was the real reason for the abdication, rather than the divorce stuff. The politicians were aware of their proclivities. It was clear that Wallis wasn’t going to have babies, so if they’d been better people, they could have made a go of the monarchy.

  8. I actually really love “W.E.”; it’s absolutely gorgeous to look at, it tells two stories simultaneously (one of them about a girl trying to find meaning in her own life, through her obsession with Wallis) and I think it has a more fair representation of Wallis than most of them — inferring she was somewhat trapped into the marriage in the end, and then stuck it out, due to devotion and social shame (he left his throne for her, so she has to stay).

  9. The 2005 one with Joely Richardson seems to hit the same notes as Anne Sebba’s 2013 book “That Woman” which casts parts of the story as almost a stalker-y relationship in which Wallis felt compelled to marry him because he gave up the throne for her, and it ws NOT her idea or demand. That always struck me as waaaay too far (she most have been entranced by the glamor and prestige etc..) but that note peeks out in other versions too,

    The version of Wallis (Edward too!) in the Crown are delightful, viciously skeezy characters! Wallis’ reaction upon seeing Princess Margaret’s “scandalous naked” pictures makes the whole thing worth watching!

  10. It’s almost as if Wallis is cornered into the marriage because Edward wants to abdicate.

    The affair wasn’t solely Edward’s idea. I believe that Wallis wanted it to happen as much as he did. But their marriage? Yeah, she was cornered into the marriage due to his decision to abdicate. It has been verified.

    “Dull” as it is, I believe the best production about the Windsors was 1978’s “Edward and Mrs. Simpson”.

  11. I just caught up on The Crown S2 so this is appropriate. They present quite a level of human complexity. They do both seem to have been pretty awful, and I do take the same read on scheming and self-seeking. But it’s profoundly interesting that Edward abdicated to marry her when there’s plenty of monarchs with favored mistresses in history… He really could have had both (not that that would’ve been a great solution, particularly for whatever princess would’ve been the third wheel in his great love story, but a willingness to sacrifice for love despite generally being rather selfish doesn’t fit the mold).

    Will admit I haven’t seen most of these—just Crown and King’s Speech. I remember seeing the awful reviews of WE when it came out.. my impression was that perhaps there was a bit of a self-justification from the director? Certainly it sounds like there was self-indulgence.

    Also, whoever has seen Wallis & Edward… that screen cap above—are the tucks under the bust better looking from the front? They look rather sloppy compared to the original photo and the same dress show in the screen cap for Edward & Mrs. Simpson. But maybe it’s just the angle.

  12. You missed one! BBC2 aired a docu- drama called Royal Wives at War. It’s a Feud-style show in which both Wallis and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon talk to the audience with flashbacks. I missed the first part of it, but what I did see was fascinating. The 1920s-30s aren’t my favorite clothing period, so I didn’t catch any glaring inaccuracies. It’s not on YouTube at the moment, but this preview is: https://youtu.be/K7MurYSJp8s

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