Fire Over England
Fire Over England (1937) This is the first time Lawrence Olivier and his lover, Vivien Leigh, appeared together in a film, and is rumored to be the film that landed her the plum part of all time: Scarlett O’Hara. It’s a swashbuckler, taking place in the lead-up to the Spanish Armada. Larry is sent to spy on the Spanish. He only got fourth billing, since Flora Robson as Queen Elizabeth was a bigger star at the time.
I quickly tired of it. It frequently bugs me when in an historical drama they start speaking of “freedom.” Larry is fighting for “freedom.” For who? Okay, freedom from foreign domination by Spain, which was, no question, a worse place to be in 1587 than England, mostly because of the insanity of the Spanish Inquisition. But England was no lonely outpost of freedom. Like all monarchies of the time, it was a place of fabulous wealth for royalty and their friends, and serfdom for everyone else. None of this was helped by some shameful overacting by the future Lord Olivier. I lost interest and turned it off after about a half hour.