ⓘ That Hamilton Woman

That Hamilton Woman

ⓘ That Hamilton Woman

That Hamilton Woman, also known as Lady Hamilton and The Enchantress, is a 1941 black-and-white historical film drama, produced and directed by Alexander Korda for his British company during his exile in the United States. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, the film tells the story of the rise and fall of Emma Hamilton, dance-hall girl and courtesan, who married Sir William Hamilton, British ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples. She later became mistress to Admiral Horatio Nelson. The film was a critical and financial success, and while on the surface the plot is both a war story and a romance set in Napoleonic times, it was also intended to function as a deliberately pro-British film that would portray Britain positively within the context of World War II which was being fought at that time. At the time the film was released France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Denmark had all surrendered to the Nazis and the Soviet Union was still officially allied to them, correspondingly the British were fighting against the Nazis alone and felt the need to produce films that would both boost their own morale, and also portray them sympathetically to the foreign world, and in particular, to the United States.


1. Plot

The story begins with an aging, alcoholic woman being clapped into debtors prison in the slums of Calais. In a husky, despairing, whiskey-soaked voice, the former Lady Hamilton narrates the story of her life to her skeptical fellow inmates. In one of the early scenes that launches the flashback, Emma, well past her prime, looks into a mirror and remembers "the face I knew before," the face of the young, lovely girl who captured the imagination of artists - most notably George Romney and Joshua Reynolds.

Emma Harts early life as the mistress of the charming but unreliable Charles Francis Greville leads to her meeting with his wealthy uncle Sir William Hamilton, the British ambassador to Naples.

Greville gives Emma to Sir William in exchange for relief on his debts. At first Emma is crushed by this turn of events. Gradually, however, she comes to appreciate her luxurious surroundings and her glamorous new life. She also grows to respect Sir William, who marries her and explains the reasons for Britains war against Napoleon. When Horatio Nelson arrives in Naples, Emma is soon deeply attracted to him and is impressed by his passionate insistence on resisting Napoleons dictatorial rule. She leaves Sir William to live with Nelson, who is also married. Their idyllic life together is threatened by the continuing war and their infidelity to their spouses. Nelson leaves to confront Napoleons navy in the decisive Battle of Trafalgar. After his death in the battle Emma succumbs to alcoholism and spirals down into poverty and oblivion.


2. Production

Shot in the United States during September and October 1940, That Hamilton Woman defines Britains struggle against Napoleon in terms of resistance to a dictator who seeks to dominate the world. The film was intended to parallel the current situation in Europe and was intended as propaganda at a time before the attack on Pearl Harbor when the United States was still formally neutral. Kordas brother Vincent designed the sets, creating Sir William Hamiltons palatial home that looked out over the sea of Naples, as well as the interiors of Merton Place: the home Emma and Nelson shared when they returned to England. On a tight budget, Korda completed filming in only five weeks, working from an original screenplay by Walter Reisch and R.C. Sherriff. Originally intended to be entitled The Enchantress, the film was first released in Britain as Lady Hamilton.

Stars Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier were newlyweds at the time of filming and were considered a "dream couple." The films tagline was: The Years Most Exciting Team of Screen Lovers! That Hamilton Woman is the last of three films they made together and their only film as a married couple. Their first film, Fire Over England, was also produced by Korda. In one scene Laurence Olivier, as Nelson, says he has received orders from Admiral Hood. Olivier played Admiral Hood 43 years later in The Bounty 1984.

Because of the strict Motion Picture Production Code, the two lovers never appear in bed together, nor ever even partially undressed together. Before the affair begins Emma sits on her bed, wherein Nelson is recovering from exhaustion, to feed him some soup. According to K.R.M. Shorts study of the film, the major problem for the Production Code office was not the scenes showing romantic encounters: It was the scripts treating an "adulterous relationship as a romance instead of a sin."

The supporting cast of That Hamilton Woman includes Sara Allgood as Emmas mother, Gladys Cooper as Lady Nelson, and Alan Mowbray as William Hamilton, Emmas husband, the British ambassador to Naples, and a collector of objets dart.

While That Hamilton Woman was marketed as historical romance, its subtext falls into the "war propaganda" category. In July 1941, the isolationist group America First Committee AFC targeted That Hamilton Woman and three other major Hollywood feature films as productions that "seemed to be preparing Americans for war." The AFC called on the American public to boycott theaters showing these movies.


3. Reception

Bosley Crowther in his review of That Hamilton Woman for The New York Times, said the film is "just a running account of a famous love affair, told with deep sympathy for the participants against a broad historic outline of the times. Perhaps if it had all been condensed and contrived with less manifest awe, the effect would have been more exciting and the love story would have had more poignancy. As it is, the little drama in the picture is dissipated over many expansive scenes; compassion is lost in marble halls." Of the two stars, Crowther said, "Vivien Leighs entire performance as Lady Hamilton is delightful to behold. All of the charm and grace and spirit which Miss Leigh contains is beautifully put to use to capture the subtle spell which Emma most assuredly must have weaved. Laurence Oliviers Nelson is more studied and obviously contrived, and his appearance is very impressive, with the famous dead eye and empty sleeve."

Critical sources usually point out That Hamilton Woman was Winston Churchills favorite film. In her research on the subject, film historian Professor Stacey Olster reveals that at the time the film was made, Alexander Kordas New York offices were "supplying cover to MI-5 agents gathering intelligence on both German activities in the United States and isolationist sentiments among makers of American foreign policy." According to Anthony Holden, Oliviers biographer, That Hamilton Woman "became Exhibit A in a case brought against Korda by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Committee had accused him of operating an espionage and propaganda center for Britain in the United States - a charge Korda only escaped by virtue of the fact that his scheduled appearance before the committee on December 12, 1941 was preempted by the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor five days earlier".


3.1. Reception Box office

The film was the fifth most popular movie at the British box office in 1941.


4. Awards and honors

At the 14th Academy Awards, That Hamilton Woman was nominated for four Oscars and won for Best Sound.

  • Best Cinematography Rudolph Mate
  • Best Art Direction Vincent Korda, Julia Heron
  • Best Effects, Special Effects Lawrence W. Butler, William A. Wilmarth
  • Best Sound, Recording Jack Whitney
  • another woman Sarah Landson, and they were married in 1861 they lived in the Minneapolis area. Sarah and their son died in 1867. Hamilton married again
  • duped a woman into a supposed marriage. While the surviving records of the case indicate that Hamilton was only prosecuted for deceiving one woman into marriage
  • South Carolina Paul Hamilton 1762 - 1816 Though it has no bearing on the present day, the January, 1912 alleged lynching of a black woman and three black
  • Grace Towns Hamilton February 10, 1907 June 17, 1992 was the first African - American woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly. As executive director
  • George and was attributed to Lady Anne Hamilton This book was written by a woman who had gained Hamilton s confidence and is referred to as S.W.
  • heartily endorsed by the Hamilton Spectator, who called her, One of the best public servants this city has ever had. A woman of integrity, intelligence
  • James Hamilton Jr. May 8, 1786 November 15, 1857 was an American lawyer and politician. He represented South Carolina in the U.S. Congress 1822 1829
  • John Hamilton s life prior to his criminal career. He was born to an Irish - Canadian father from Essex County, Ontario and a German - American woman from
  • Girl, Woman Other is the eighth novel written by Bernardine Evaristo, published in 2019 by Hamish Hamilton It follows the lives of 12 characters in
  • Pepper Hamilton LLP is a U.S - based law firm with 14 offices and around 500 attorneys. The firm is ranked among the 100 largest firms by revenue in the
  • Hamilton under the name Tash has also recorded a track with Mischa Daniels called Round Round which samples Crystal Waters Gypsy Woman She s

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