WCW: Glenda Jackson


How, I ask you, HOW have we never done a Woman Crush Wednesday featuring Glenda Jackson? I am here to correct our oversight RIGHT EFFING NOW.


Marat/Sade (1967) – Charlotte Corday

Not really what I’d call a costume flick, but I know someone in the comments would whine about me leaving it out, so here it is. Jackson plays Charlotte Corday, the assassin of Jean-Paul Marat, who is imprisoned in the same insane asylum as the Marquis de Sade. And… It’s the 1960s, so weird shit happens that’s supposed to be scathing commentary on current geopolitical conflicts or something.


Women in Love (1969) – Gudrun Brangwen

For a movie with the title Women in Love, the film is actually about the forbidden love shared between two men who, for homophobic reasons, cannot act out on their feelings. Unless it’s a naked wrestling match by the firelight in a grand fireplace. Who says romance is dead?


Howards End (1970) – Margaret Schlegel

The classic E.M. Forster novel in its first adaptation for the BBC. Jackson plays Margaret, the centerpiece of the family drama who manages to bring peace and stability to a bunch of overreacting, petulant, and troubled relations.


The Music Lovers (1970) – Nina Tchaikovsky

Jackson plays the delusional nymphomaniac wife of composer Pyotr Illych Tchaikovsky. Really, that’s all that can be said for the character, but Jackson holds her own in a film with a lot going on.


Elizabeth R (1971) – Queen Elizabeth I

As far as we’re concerned, Jackson’s portrayal of the Virgin Queen is the gold standard. The series is at times so laboriously dedicated to getting the details of Elizabeth’s 44-year reign right that it can border on snooze-fest territory, but Jackson’s Elizabeth is so riveting, it’s hard to look away. Doesn’t hurt that this series has some of the best Elizabethan costuming ever put to film, courtesy of historical costuming legend Jean Hunnisett.


Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) – Queen Elizabeth I

It’s not really a sequel to Elizabeth R, more of a meditation on a fictional meeting between Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. Jackson reprises her role as QEI beside Vanessa Redgrave as the doomed Scottish queen, Mary.

By Terry O’Neill, bromide print, 1971


The Boy Friend (1971) – Rita Monroe

Jackson is uncredited for her portrayal of the grande dame of a small-time English theatre, set during the inter-war period. The honestly-too-old-to-play-the-ingenue Rita finds herself sidelined as the romantic lead in the musical The Boy Friend, after breaking her leg. She’s forced to watch her signature role taken by her understudy, played by Twiggy. Honestly, it’s the least weird Ken Russell film ever with some lovely 1920s costumes.


The Nelson Affair (1973) – Lady Hamilton

A.K.A. Bequest to the Nation. Jackson plays Lady Hamilton, the unpopular mistress of Lord Nelson. It’s on my list of films to review, so that’s about all I have to say about it right now.


Hedda (1975) – Hedda Gabler

Jackson plays Hedda Gabler, in the adaptation of Ibsen’s play chronicling the petty and superficial life of socialite Hedda Gabler.


The Incredible Sarah (1976) – Sarah Bernhardt

I’m hard pressed to think of a more suitable actress to play the legendary actress. Unfortunately, the script is weak AF, and the costumes are hella kitschy. Not even Glenda Jackson can salvage it entirely.


The Return of the Soldier (1982) – Margaret Grey

Not a whole lot of images online of this film. Jackson plays the former lover of a shell-shocked soldier who has lost his memory.


Salome’s Last Dance (1988) – Herodias / Lady Alice


The Rainbow (1989) – Anna Brangwen

THE RAINBOW, Christopher Gable, Glenda Jackson, 1989, (c)Vestron Pictures

Jackson plays the mother of the character she played in Women in Love, opposite Christopher Gable, who played the lover of the husband of her character in The Music Lovers. Not surprisingly, this is a Ken Russell film.


King of the Wind (1990) – Queen Caroline

Annoyingly, there’s not a hell of a lot of images online from this film. Which means it’s probably going to annoy me until I watch it, and it will be every bit as bad as it sounds. Jackson plays Queen Caroline, in a movie about a horse. Nine-year-old me would have been way more excited about that plot than 39-year-old me is currently.


Who else is part of the Glenda Jackson fan club?


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. Susan Pola Staples

    For me Dame Glenda will always be Elizabeth Gloriana. Not only her performance set the standard, it’s Platinum.
    Her Sarah Bernhardt was a bit camp. But maybe Sarah was a bit camp. After all, Ms Bernhardt kept a cheetah or ocelot.

    • Susan Pola Staples

      And where can I watch this. It would be something to compare with Ms Thompson’s Margaret.

  2. Penny

    I am totally a signed up member of the Glenda Jackson fan club. I watched her Elizabeth as a little kid, the very first thing i ever saw on tv ( what can I say…my parents were hippies, we went to grans to watch it), and i have never forgotten it. She set a pretty high bar for actresses for me for the rest of my life…..Did you know she was the original stage Sally Bowles in Caberet, but was deemed “not pretty enough” for the film version? Wouldnt that have been a show to catch? Or that she retired from acting to become an outspoken left-wing local member of parliament, regularly re-elected by an increasing margin becasue of her hard work and activism? One talented and strong woman – Good Queen Bess would have approved ( although possibly not of the socialism part).

    • MoHub

      Jill Haworth was the original Sally Bowles on Broadway, and Judi Dench played the role in the original London cast. Glenda Jackson is not listed in the cast of any production from the original to the most recent revival.

      • Penny

        Sorry – there was a program on Cabaret on public radio here is Sydney recently, and she was mentioned as playing her in one of the stage productions. Must have been an error…..would have been great to see, none the less!


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