Posts tagged “Horatio Nelson”.

UNDEREMPLOYMENT CINEMA — That Hamilton Woman (1941)

Fresh off her success as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, we have Vivien Leigh in the title role of Emma Hamilton. Well, she did two other movies in 1940. But That Hamilton Woman takes advantage of Leigh’s figure and beauty and we see her in an endless parade of shimmering gowns and big hats, and that might almost be enough for me, quite frankly. But there’s an actual story it’s a good one.

The film starts out with Emma down on her luck in Calais, tossed in jail for stealing a bottle of wine. ¬†Actress Heather Angel as “a street girl” is in the brig with her and Angel urges her to tell her story, “whether it’s real or not.” And she tells the girls about how she came to Naples with her mother, was practically sold off by her fiance to his rich uncle, the British Ambassador, and how she married him, learned French and Italian, and wound up best pals with the Queen of the Two Sicilies. Eventually, Horatio Nelson shows up needing 10,000 troops to trounce Napoleon and Emma succeeds in 10 minutes where her husband would have failed in a week.

It takes a while but (married) Admiral Nelson (Laurence Olivier) and Emma become lovers. Josiah, his stepson, seethes and writes home to mother complaining about “That Hamilton Woman.”

As things progress, the Two Sicilies are overrun by the French, so Nelson goes back to Naples to “save the Royal Family” but it’s all about Emma. The whole thing is a wonderful fantasy until they get back to London and of course, the vinegary wife of the Admiral and of course society are keeping a close eye on these two.

There are also a LOT of speeches about how awful Napoleon is and how all of Euopre is cowering and that the only way to deal with a dictator is to SMASH HIM, and of course, the movie is  filmed in 1941 so all these speeches against Napoleon are all about Hitler.

CASUAL MOVIE RACISM: Since this is Italy in 1799, there are no black servants to denigrate, but Emma’s mother later complains about how all the Italians “smell of onions,” and how the smell gets worse when they are excited about something. This reminded me of Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life complaining about “those garlic eaters.”

SPOILER ALERT: After Nelson dies, we cut back to Emma in jail, looking like a very haggard Greta Garbo, and Heather Angel says, “And then what happened?” and Emma doesn’t give a real answer, so we never find out how Emma, who rose from being a dancer and a courtesan to helping Nelson destroy Napoleon’s armies and ships more than once, wound up falling from grace and stealing booze in Calais!

LAST SEEN: I think I only saw part of this movie while in high school, on a Sunday afternoon at Grandma’s house.