22 thoughts on “TBT: Young Bess (1953)

  1. I definately have to see this movie!
    By the way, there’s a little mistake in text in line: “Old fat Henry VIII (Charles Laughton, reprising the same act he played in 1993’s Private Life of Henry VIII)” – it should be 1933 instead of 1993 ;)

  2. The sad thing is that the French hoods in this movie aren’t any worse than the ones in Wolf Hall….

  3. I remember watching this year’s ago when I was about 12-13. The same age Elizabeth was during the period. Thomas Seymour bothered me then. And his smarmy creepy paedophiliac behaviour bothers me more today. I won’t be watching this again.
    Historically and canonically young girls could and we’re married as young as 12. Margaret Beaufort was and gave birth to Henry VII and was unable to have other children. By 1545-46, they, the nobility waited until Bride was usually around 16-17 to ensure viable living children and mother.

    1. Most of Henry VIII’s wives were in their mid-20s, including the ones who bore him children. It was getting more common for Tudor / Elizabethan nobility to marry at that age.

  4. I have a bit of a girl crush on Deborah Kerr. She had such a lovely screen presence.

    I haven’t seen this since I was about thirteen, but I have to pause and ponder. Only in Hollywood would they turn a predatory / abusive relationship like Seymour had with Elizabeth into a crush / luuurv story. :P

  5. I love this movie and definitely agree about the costumes, without those damn princess seams they would be pretty amazing.

  6. Ugh. Powerful older man makes passes at young girl… well, of COURSE she loved it! People do that with Evelyn Nesbit too, and it makes me livid!

  7. Thanks for bringing this one up! I know I saw it more than once as a teen when I binge-watched historical/swashbuckling movies on TNT (and I loved Stewart Granger!). Funny enough though I can’t remember much about the movie… will have to re-watch if I can catch it somewhere!

  8. Um….does The Court Jester Count? Costumes by Edith Head…total Middle Ages-meets-1950’s with a Mary Blair-Disney-esque color palette. Exquisitely fitted gowns, chiffon, lame’, Danny Kaye….its a perfect storm of fabulous! Angela Landsbury’s candy pink ensemble is on my bucket list of “things to make and wear to Renfaire and get side-eyed”

  9. I know these costumes got recycled and made over a LOT, and it’s always fascinating (and often a little sad) to see the actual costumes in their present condition after all that reuse and reworking.

    But I just don’t think the “green gown” in the last color shot is the same costume as the costume on Simmons in the BW (test?) shot above it. Similar cut on the body of the dress and similar front fastenings, but the fabric is totally different, even if you account for the trim, sleeves and petticoat being swapped out or removed/replaced.

    I haven’t seen “Young Bess” in years, but I love Jean Simmons and Deborah Kerr. Thanks for taking a look at it!

  10. Just watched it on TCM and blithely explained all the things wrong to my husband. Mind, he caught a few too. Margaret Irwin’s series is one of my favorite pieces of Elizabethan historical fiction (Legacy is the other), but the movie falls short a bit. Some of the costuming–what, no veils for Bess (particularly in that white dress)? And Jean Simmons’ 1st outfit struck me as completely wrong: too short, for one. I know at a much younger age, Elizabeth (3yo) was outgrowing her clothes and I suppose that was the impression they were trying to give.

    I did think Catherine Parr’s outfits were good, though, although I can’t be sure about the materials in terms of patterning or colors. Maybe a bit light, based on portraits of the time? But Kat Ashley wearing a gable hood wasn’t quite right, either.

    I wasn’t as squicked about the relationship between Elizabeth and Tom, given the historical reality. There’s a line in the book where Elizabeth accuses him of being 3x her age (13 and 39?), and he points out that in X number of years, he’ll only be twice her age. The actors were a married couple at that point, too. Interesting fact: if you look at the movies they did together, there are a lot of young girl (legal or barely so) and older man fall in love stories; this actually echoes their relationship. They met when Jean was underage, fell in love, and Stewart divorced his wife so he could marry Jean when she was of age. And we aren’t talking about her next birthday, either.

    Going back to the movie itself, you could cut the propaganda with a knife. If you check the date, that is the same year Elizabeth II was crowned. In fact, I think I heard somewhere they rushed this through to be ready before the coronation. (but if you read the 2nd & 3rd books, written during WWII, you can pick some up there, too. Much more subtle though, IMO)

    There were other things wrong, but can be attributed to the necessary compression of the timeline in the movie. But would it have killed them to age Edward properly?!

  11. Look up in the sky, is it a bird? is it a plane? No, It’s Tom Seymour!! Seriously what’s with the trunks????

  12. Am I the only one to notice the 1950’s pointy bras worn under these gowns???? Ruins the lines and fit of the bodice.

  13. Nothing about this movie affects my conviction that ‘Fornicating Tom’ Seymour, the Lady Elizabeth and others would have greatly benefitted by his being fixed.

    If it works for a tomcat, why not for Admiral Tom?

  14. In all fairness though, Ms. Deborah Kerr V. Ms. Jean Simmons would be a most tricky choice – they’re both extremely lovely.

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