Flora Robson just might be my favorite Elizabeth I ever. She, and a chance to see Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh at the height of their physical beauty, made this a fairly enjoyable experience.
It is 1588 and relations between Spain and England are at the breaking point. English pirates regularly plunder Spanish treasure ships and Spain is said to be building an armada for an attack on the island. The Spanish capture English pirate Sir Richard Ingolby who is sailing with his son Michael (Laurence Olivier). Michael manages to escape and takes refuge with a Spanish nobleman and his daughter but the father is hauled away and burned by the Inquisition.
Michael is left with a burning hatred for the Spanish. Despite the protests of his lady love (Vivien Leigh), when he returns to England he takes on a dangerous spy mission to Spain to uncover the names of the traitors that are plotting to assassinate the Queen. With Raymond Massey as Philip II of Spain, Leslie Banks as a loyal English courtier, and an almost unrecognizable James Mason in one of his very first roles as a traitor.
This average costume drama comes alive every time Flora Robson is on screen. Fortunately, this is fairly frequently. I loved the scene when Elizabeth takes her wig off and looks at her aging face in a mirror. Otherwise, things proceed just about how one would expect.