Cast & Crew
After King Henry VIII dies, his young son Edward VI succeeds him to the throne of England. Amidst the plotting for political power, the Earl of Warwick successfully arranges for Lady Jane Grey to marry Edward, and thus be placed in line for the crown, ahead of Mary Tudor. Lady Jane is queen of England for only nine days before she is overthrown by the Tudor queen, who then has the innocent, young queen beheaded.
Tudor Rose (aka Nine Days a Queen)
As a chronicle of a complicated period in the royal annals, the biopic focused on the difficulties stemming from Henry VIII's many marriages and his break from the Catholic Church. Upon the death of Henry's only son Edward VI, the English throne was virtually up for grabs. Next in line should have been Henry's daughter, Mary, who was Catholic. Instead, Edward and his supporters named his protestant cousin Jane as successor. She assumed the throne for nine days in July 1553 before Mary rallied support and took her rightful title. Initially, Jane was only imprisoned. Eventually, to qualm further rebellions, the staunchly Catholic Mary ordered her execution. Lady Jane Grey was beheaded on February 12, 1554. She was only 16-years old.
Nova Pilbeam, who plays Jane in Tudor Rose, was almost the same age as the title character; she was seventeen when the film was made. One of the most popular child stars in England during the 1930s, Pilbeam made her screen debut as the daughter of parents who were divorcing in the film Little Friend (1934). The part won her the attention of Gaumont-British Studios, which signed her to a 7-year contract. Her next film would be Alfred Hitchcock's first version of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). Tudor Rose would follow, and in it Pilbeam would take the lead role in only her third picture. Her studio, Gaumont, soon folded, but Pilbeam never stopped working. Hitchcock cast her in Young and Innocent (1937), where she again was the star of the picture but that was her last film for the British director who soon relocated to Hollywood.
Reputedly, producer David O. Selznick pushed for Pilbeam to star in Hitchcock's first American film Rebecca (1940). Hitchcock, however, felt that she was a bit immature for the role and the part went to Joan Fontaine instead. In the meantime, the young Pilbeam was rapidly maturing into a young adult. In 1939, she married director Pen Tennyson (who had been Hitchcock's assistant director on The Man Who Knew Too Much). Sadly, Tennyson was soon killed in a plane crash but Pilbeam carried on, working on the big screen through the 1940s. Her films include Spring Meeting (1941) with Michael Wilding; Ealing's war training film Next of Kin (1942); and the spy thriller Yellow Canary (1943). Though she continued to appear on stage, Pilbeam retired from film in 1948 after making The Three Weird Sisters.
Along with character actor Cedric Hardwicke and a young John Mills, who was just beginning his award-winning career, Pilbeam is also joined in Tudor Rose by theatre great Sybil Thorndike. The actress had made a name for herself playing Shakespearian roles at the famed Old Vic and starring in George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, which was supposedly written for her. She would also appear in a silent screen version of the play in 1927. Thorndike's film career, however, failed to live up to her stage success. She did appear in a number of superb stage-to-screen adaptations including: Shakespeare's Macbeth (1922), Major Barbara (1941), again by Shaw, and Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (1963). One of Thorndike's most high profile films was The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), which cast her opposite Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe.
One last contribution to note in Tudor Rose is that of editor Terence Fisher. It was Fisher's first job as editor and essentially marked the beginning of his film career. Fisher would go on to become a successful director who is best remembered for his stylish Hammer horror films, such as Dracula (1958), The Mummy (1959), The Phantom of the Opera (1962) and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969).
Producer: Michael Balcon
Director: Robert Stevenson
Screenplay: Miles Malleson, Robert Stevenson
Cinematography: Mutz Greenbaum
Film Editing: Terence Fisher
Art Direction: Alex Vetchinsky
Music: Hubert Bath
Cast: Cedric Hardwicke (Earl of Warwick), Nova Pilbeam (Lady Jane Grey), John Mills (Lord Guilford Dudley), Felix Aylmer (Edward Seymour), Leslie Perrins (Thomas Seymour), Frank Cellier (Henry VII).
by Stephanie Thames
Tudor Rose (aka Nine Days a Queen)
This film was released in Great Britain under the title Tudor Rose. The film is also known under the alternate titles Lady Jane Grey and The Life of Lady Jane Grey. Modern sources state that this was the first film edited by Terence Fisher, who was later to become a director for Hammer Films.