WCW: Anna Neagle


British actress Anna Neagle had a lengthy career in the 1930s through to the 1950s, but she’s largely unknown to modern audiences. Turns out she left quite the legacy when it came to historical roles on film!


Magic Night (1932)

One of Anna’s earliest starring roles, this film is set in pre-WWI Vienna. It was originally titled Good Night, Vienna.


Bittersweet (1933)

Anna plays Sarah Linden, a woman torn between her true love and going through with an advantageous marriage to a total bore in this film adaptation of the Noel Coward operetta.


Nell Gwynn (1934)

A film treatment of plucky Nell Gwynn, who rises from an orange girl in Drury Lane, to a star of the stage, and ultimately the mistress of King Charles II.


Peg of Old Drury (1935)

Another biopic of an actress, Peg Wolfington. Unlike Nell Gwynn, this film was a critical success for Anna.


Victoria the Great (1937)

Probably the role that Anna is best known for, that of Queen Victoria.


Sixty Glorious Years / Queen of Destiny (1938)

The follow-up to Victoria the Great, focusing on Victoria’s middle years on the throne.


Nurse Edith Cavell (1939)

Biopic of Edith Cavell, a British nurse who went to the front lines of the First World War.


Katy’s Love Affair / The Courtneys of Curzon Street (1947)

Anna plays Kate, a servant who married way, way above her station to the shock of London Society at the turn of the 20th century.


Elizabeth of Ladymead (1948)

Anna plays four generations of women, starting in the 1870s and going up to the 1940s, as each go through their lives while their men are away at war.


The Lady with a Lamp (1949)

Anna was lauded for her depiction of Florence Nightingale.


What is your favorite historical role played by Anna Neagle? Share it with us in the comments!


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

10 Responses

  1. Dani Franco

    Completely off topic comment but as a Brazilian/Latina fan of FF I’d love to see a Frock Flicks analysis of the Brazilian telenovela ”Novo Mundo” (New World), especially since y’all made those delicious reviews of those wtfrock Turkish dramas about the Ottoman court and Brazilian telenovelas have an ever higher budget and a similar reach. This telenovela is particularly interesting since it features a lot of historical figures (including Empress Leopoldina, a Habsburg!) and it’s also set in the equivalent of the Regency era (First Kingdom in Brazil) an era that is very well documented (especially the garments and their intricate social meaning) by the paintings of Jean Baptiste Debret and other artists, unlike the previous centuries, but they still chose to go with generic old timey vibes for the women even though the male characters get accurate outfits. Btw the fictional main character (Anna Millman) is a fantasy princess-ey meh version of Maria Granham, an actual person and British intellectual that actually served in the court at the time. I guess Granham wasn’t spicy enough so they created the princess-ey version that fights with swords and I’d love to see her roasted LOL

  2. susan l eiffert

    I too have an off-topic question: Could you please tell us about that intriguing textile hanging behind you in your and your team’s filmed discussion on the best and worst costumes this week? It looked like an incomplete embroidered panel. Many thanks!

  3. Lily Lotus Rose

    I’ve never heard of this actress, nor have I seen any of these films. The costumes from the two Victoria movies look fantastic, though, and I’d love to watch and compare them to the British TV show Victoria and to the Emily Blunt movie. Also, Elizabeth of Ladymeade looks interesting. Long ago Ralph Fiennes was in a movie with a similar premise, Sunshine, in which he played characters in 3 or 4 generations of one family. He did an excellent job (as usual). It would be great to see an actress do the same.

    • M.E. Lawrence

      One of my favorite historical movies, “Sunshine.” (Sadly, I don’t remember the costumes much, I was so absorbed by all the characters.)

  4. Maggie May

    Edith Cavell did not go to the front lines. She was matron of a hospital in Brussels when the Germans invaded.

    She treated soldiers of all countries, gladly. But she was found guilty of helping smuggle British and French soldiers out of he country.

    The Germans considered this treason and she was killed by a firing squad.

  5. Jose

    I believe there’s also Lilacs in the Spring in which she plays a woman in the 1950’s and her mother during the 1910’s to 1920’s and it also has two sketches in which she imagines herself as Nell Gwynn and Queen Victoria
    There’s King’s Rhapsody in which she is a king’s mistress but I don’t know if it’s period also there’s Forever and a Day (1943) it is full of stars and she is in one of the flashbacks about the house the film is set in I think her character is from the 19th century
    Wings and the woman (1942) I believe is set in the 1920’s to 1930’s so it would be period
    And I also think that some of Brazil’s Telenovelas would be a very nice Topic for a review from FROCKFLICKS

  6. Natasha Rubin

    I really want to see Victoria the Great (and maybe the sequel) one of these days! The costumes look really faithfully recreated, and I’ve heard the writing is pretty dang historically accurate, too. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t seem to be available online anywhere.

    • jose

      let me do my weekly good action and say i think you might found them in vk.com or ok.ru good luck also youtube got HD clips to order them if your intrigued enough

  7. Jose

    I always thought like that:
    United States has Greer Garson
    United Kingdom has Anna Neagle
    France has Renee Saint-Cyr
    Germany has Paula Wessely
    Since you have two of them a Post could you give a try on the other two?