This lavish historical drama about the scandalous romance of Lady Emma Hamilton and Lord Horatio Nelson won high praise for everything but the story, which critics called trite, awkward and bowdlerized, since Hamilton's uninhibited affairs were not in line with contemporary morals. Based
on E. Barrington's novel The Divine Lady: A Romance of Nelson and Emma Hamilton, the film follows the adventures of small-town English flower Emma Hart (Corinne Griffith), the beautiful daughter of a cook. She is "discovered" by her mother's employer, aristocratic Charles Grenville (Ian Keith).
Emma falls in love with Grenville, but he merely exploits her, taking her to Italy and abandoning her in Naples. In Naples she meets Lord Hamilton (H.B. Warner), the British ambassador, and he marries her. Emma, now Lady Hamilton, later falls in love with Lord Nelson (Victor Varconi), and they
have a passionate affair. During the Napoleonic wars, she is instrumental in gaining permission for his fleet to take on supplies in Naples, helping the British Navy to triumph. She returns to England with the victorious Nelson, even though both are married to others, but is -- not unexpectedly
-- shunned by British society. The lovers move to his country estate, but he is again called to battle against the French and is mortally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar. Star Corinne Griffith was widely regarded as one of the most beautiful leading ladies of the silent era, but she retired
from acting shortly after the coming of sound. THE DIVINE LADY, one of her last pictures, was largely silent, but contained singing sequences designed to capitalize on the novelty of sound technology. Barrington's novel was later remade in 1941 as THAT HAMILTON WOMAN starring newlyweds Vivien
Leigh and Laurence Olivier.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This lavish historical drama about the scandalous romance of Lady Emma Hamilton and Lord Horatio Nelson won high praise for everything but the story, which critics called trite, awkward and bowdlerized, since Hamilton's uninhibited affairs were not in line… (more)