TBT: Tudor Rose aka Nine Days a Queen (1936)

Undoubtedly, you’ve seen Lady Jane (1986), starring a young Helena Bonham Carter and Carey Elwes. But that’s not the first movie to tell the story of the ill-fated Jane Gray, who was Queen of England for a mere nine days after Edward VI and before Mary I in 1553. The first talkie film to focus on this topic was Tudor Rose in 1936, which was also titled Nine Days a Queen, starring Nova Pilbeam (who had been a popular child actress) as Jane, John Mills (who went on to have a long film career) as Guildford, and Cedric Hardwicke as bad guy Earl of Warwick/Northumberland (he subsequently played a lot more movie baddies).

Interestingly, this version spends a good third of the film on Edward’s reign and the machinations behind his throne. It’s a highly relevant build up to show how Jane is thrust onto the throne and actually gives this movie a bit more of a historical and less romantic bent than the 1986 story (which, yes, we loved to bits, but omg, the fall-in-love-overnight thing? the “our coin” stuff? puh-leeze, I’m not 17 anymore). Interesting touch, we see John Knox preaching fire and brimstone for Edward VI at his Lord Protector Edward Seymour’s behest — which is historically accurate, and in fact, Knox met his wife during this brief trip to England around 1550. Another good historical bit is Frances Grey, Jane’s mother, being a nasty piece of work, shipping off her daughter as she does (though I doubt her father was really such a doofus).

Despite a generally historical plot, the costumes are very 1930s Tudor-bethan. Wacky fabric choices married with goofy silhouettes. The one standout is Mary Tudor, who, when she meets Jane in the Tower of London, looks right out of a portrait. How they could get that Tudor gown correct yet the ones worn by Jane look so freaky, I don’t know. Either rental stock or a conscious choice to make the ingenue look that way.

Tudor Rose / Nine Days a Queen (1936)

Unfortunate biggins!

Tudor Rose / Nine Days a Queen (1936)

Yes, it’s a crappy visor French hood. But there’s some neat trim on the sleeves (doesn’t make up for the rest of it, just pointing that out).

Tudor Rose / Nine Days a Queen (1936)

1930s hair & makeup, of course.

Tudor Rose / Nine Days a Queen (1936)

Boy king asserts his will (to no affect).

Tudor Rose / Nine Days a Queen (1936)

Nope, not measuring up.

Tudor Rose / Nine Days a Queen (1936)

Hey, cuz, want my crappy job when I die?

Tudor Rose / Nine Days a Queen (1936)

OMG THIS PRINT IS INSANE.

Tudor Rose / Nine Days a Queen (1936)

Sparkly wedding outfits, briefly seen. I think this set the tone for Lady Jane in 1986.

Tudor Rose / Nine Days a Queen (1936)

Her slashed sleeves are obviously theatrical, but I like the overall look.

Tudor Rose / Nine Days a Queen (1936)

Unfortunate gable hood.

Tudor Rose / Nine Days a Queen (1936)

Coronation bling.

Tudor Rose / Nine Days a Queen (1936)

These aren’t bad, for a decade later.

Tudor Rose / Nine Days a Queen (1936)

How not to make Tudor sleeves.

Tudor Rose / Nine Days a Queen (1936)

Queen Mary looks good, from her hood to her gown.

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

Twitter Website

A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. When she’s not dressing up in costumes, she can be found traveling the world with her sweetie and, occasionally, Kendra and Sarah. Her costuming and travel adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also maintains a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

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