This lavish historical drama is visually stunning but unfortunately becomes so bogged down in dialog that the film is unfulfilling as a whole. Based on truth, it features de Havilland as Ana de Mendoza, the Princess of Eboli in Spain in 1580. The beautiful and enticing woman wears a patch
over her right eye, having lost it years before in a duel over the honor of the king, Scofield. She has since become a loyal and dear friend of Scofield. He in turn has become sexually passionate about the woman, though these feelings are not returned. Instead she has married one of Scofield's
ministers, with whom she has had a son. At the story's opening de Havilland is now widowed but still a close confidante of the king. Roland is a commoner whom Scofield wishes to make his first secretary. He asks de Havilland for help in training this man for high office but is dismayed when
teacher and pupil fall in love. Consumed with jealousy, Scofield has Roland placed under arrest on a bogus murder charge. He then orders de Havilland to leave Madrid but the haughty lady refuses. Scofield has her imprisoned, then placed under house arrest. Roland manages to escape from his
confinement, then sneaks in to see his beloved. The princess is overjoyed to see Roland but persuades him to leave the country, taking her son with him. After they leave, de Havilland's health starts to fail, but shortly before she passes away, word reaches her that Roland and her son are safe.
Upon her death, Scofield plunges into mourning, overwhelmed with guilt at the suffering he caused her.
The story had first been produced on Broadway in 1949 with Katharine Cornell in the lead role. It was hardly a noteworthy production, yet producers must have felt this true-life story of royal intrigue had the makings of an intelligent and racy drama that would be greatly enhanced by shooting in
Spanish castles of the era. This was true to an extent, for the scenery and locations give this a fine realistic feeling. Costuming also pays close attention to period detail with some very colorful garb. However, the potentially exciting story was overwritten, with long stretches of tedium in a
relatively short 100 minutes. The result is a series of staged set pieces which hold none of the zeal the story demands. Scofield made his film debut with this role and is impressive in the part. He overcomes the talky script, delivering a good character study of a man tortured by his inner
feelings. This was de Havilland's first film in three years and she injects her character with the lively yet sad personality demanded. Her performance commands attention and, like Scofield, de Havilland is able to rise above the script troubles. But these two performances are not enough to
conquer the inherent problems of the production and stand out only as two jewels amidst a pile of simple polished rocks. In a minor role is Lee, later the star of many British horror films. The studio advertised this film with the tag line "England had its Amber...America had its Scarlett... But
you'll never forget the woman of Spain marked for all time as THAT LADY."
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This lavish historical drama is visually stunning but unfortunately becomes so bogged down in dialog that the film is unfulfilling as a whole. Based on truth, it features de Havilland as Ana de Mendoza, the Princess of Eboli in Spain in 1580. The beautiful… (more)