Mary of Scotland (1936)

Mary of ScotlandMary-of-scotland poster
Directed by John Ford and Leslie Godwins (uncredited)
Written by Dudley Nichols from the play by Maxwell Anderson
RKO Radio Pictures

First viewing


Mary, Queen of Scots: I have loved as a woman loves, lost as a woman loses… My son shall sit on the throne! My son shall rule England! Still, still, I win!

For some reason I just couldn’t get into this film despite its fine production values.

Katharine Hepburn plays Mary, heir to the throne of England, who returns to Scotland from France at the beginning of the film.  She is immediately confronted by the hostility of the Lairds that have been ruling Scotland in her absence and Presbyterian firebrand John Knox and the emnity of Elizabeth I.  Her one champion is Bothwell (Fredric March) and they fall in love.  However, she is more or less forced to marry Darnley, who is second in line to the English throne, to solidify her claims.  Things do not turn out well for anyone concerned.  Well, maybe eventually for baby James.


Mary of Scotland 1

This was based on a stage play and while the filmmaking is quite cinematic the dialogue remains stagebound and flowery.  I thought Hepburn’s performance was uneven.  She often overdid it but then would be radiant once more.  I thought Florence Eldridge was perfectly awful as Elizabeth.  I have to admit that the film is beautiful to look at.  John Ford got a “Special Recommendation” for this at the Venice Film Festival.

For TCM clips go here:


2 thoughts on “Mary of Scotland (1936)

  1. I am on the fence about this film. I love Hepburn but her acting was always so eccentric and it really shows here. Once more, Hollywood played with the truth of history but they always do.
    Did you know Florence Eldredge was Frederic March’s wife?

    • I didn’t know about Eldredge and March. He sure outdid her in the acting department, at least in this one. She was truely dire IMHO.

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