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That Hamilton Woman (The Criterion Collection) (1941)

Vivien Leigh , Laurence Olivier , Alexander Korda  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Heather Angel, Leonard Carey, Julie Compton
  • Directors: Alexander Korda
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: September 8, 2009
  • Run Time: 128 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002E01M8S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,116 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "That Hamilton Woman (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

Audio Commentary Featuring noted Film Historian Ian Christie
New Video Interview with Author and Editor Michael Korda
New, restored high-definition digital transfer
A 1942 Promotional Radio Piece for the Film
A Booklet Featuring an Essay by Molly Haskell
Theatrical Trailer

Editorial Reviews

One of cinema's most dashing duos, real-life spouses Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier enact their greatest on-screen romance in this visually dazzling tragic love story from legendary producer-director Alexander Korda. Set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars of the late eighteenth century, That Hamilton Woman is a gripping account of the scandalous adulterous affair between the British Royal Navy officer Lord Horatio Nelson and the renowned beauty Lady Emma Hamilton, the wife of a British ambassador. With its grandly designed sea battles and formidable star performances, Korda's film (Winston Churchill's favorite movie, which he claimed to have seen over eighty times) brings history to vivid, glamorous life.

Stills from That Hamilton Woman (Click for larger image)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great period pieces June 28, 2009
This is one of my favorite historic epic/romantic films. It stars Lawrence Olivier as Lord Nelson and Vivien Leigh as Emma Hart Hamilton, with Vivien Leigh fresh from her triumph in "Gone with the Wind" and at a time when the real-life romance and marriage between the two stars (Leigh and Olivier) was new. Up until now this film has only been available on expensive out of print VHS copies or Region 2 DVDs. Now Criterion is releasing a copy that will have all of the extras. The extras are:

New, restored high-definition digital transfer
Audio commentary featuring noted film historian Ian Christie
New video interview with author and editor Michael Korda, Alexander's nephew, who discusses growing up in the Korda family and the making of That Hamilton Woman.
Theatrical trailer
Alexander Korda Presents, a 1942 promotional radio piece for the film
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by Molly Haskell

The film is largely accurate, which is unusual for an historical drama of its time since these usually took great license with the truth. The departures from the truth that the film took were largely to satisfy the production code of the time. The truth is that William Hamilton, Emma's older husband, accepted and even encouraged the affair between his wife and Lord Nelson. When Emma set up housekeeping with Lord Nelson in England, William Hamilton lived there with them in a menage a trois relationship that fascinated the public of the time. In 1941 this would have been unacceptable on the screen.

The implication of the film is that Emma's daughter by Lord Nelson died. In fact their daughter married a man of the cloth, had ten children, and died at the age of 80. Emma's end as it is portrayed in the film is sadly accurate. Women of Emma's time were largely dependent upon their station in life and upon the whims of the men in their lives. If those men died, even if the man was great, women often found themselves in desperate poverty.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A TALE OF STAR CROSSED LOVERS... October 1, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
This film is based upon the real life love affair between Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson and Lady Emma Hamilton, wife of the British Ambassador to Naples. Real life husband and wife team, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, as the star crossed lovers, give magnificent performances. Ms. Leigh is absolutely enchanting in the role of Lady Hamilton. Mr. Olivier is likewise effective in his role, though Ms. Leigh is definitely the star of this show. The supporting cast also gives superb performances, particularly Alan Mowbray in the role of the cuckolded husband, Lord William Hamilton.

The story tells the viewer of the rise of Emma Hart, a blacksmith's daughter with a scarlet past, who by dint of her beauty and determination rose out of poverty and obscurity to become the wife of Lord William Hamilton, the British Ambassador to Naples. After their marriage, she is known as Lady Hamilton and becomes the toast of Naples. She then meets Admiral Horatio Nelson and her life changes, yet again. Defying social conventions, she and the also married Nelson begin a love affair that was to become public knowledge and lead to great scandal. What happened to them is memorably dramatized.

This is a wonderful film that all who love period pieces and historical dramas will enjoy.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars LORD AND LADY OLIVIER. November 10, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier make a beautiful pair as they portray Lady Emma Hamilton and Lord Horatio Nelson in THAT HAMILTON WOMAN! Trivia buffs should know that this was Winston Churchill's favourite film; he had it screened many times. Only part of the astonishing life of Emma, Lady Hamilton is told in this big, sprawling Alexander Korda movie, which makes of Napoleon an earlier Hitler and of Naples an 18th Century warning to America. Her real name was Amy Lyon. Before she married aging Sir William Hamilton, British Prime Minister to the Kingdom of Naples, she had lived in the London slums, passed from hand to hand, bore several illegitimate children and posed as Circe, Cassandra, Nature, Joan of Arc and Mary Magdalene for George Romney, the great English portrait painter. At Naples, she created endless scandal, became the crony of Queen Maria Carolina and met young English Naval Captain Horatio Nelson. From then on, their lives were constantly intertwined, making choice chatter for London gossips. Meanwhile, the young captain chased Napoleon's fleet around the Mediterranean, lost an eye and an arm, became the idolised "Victor of the Nile", the immortal Lord Nelson who died of a sharpshooter's ball at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805). Producer Korda makes of his heroism an epic of British defiance to dictators, of Emma's sordid life - a romance in the lush PRISONER OF ZENDA style.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Winston had to be an incorrigible romantic August 14, 2006
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Released in early 1941 during the time when England was at its most beleaguered, THAT HAMILTON WOMAN is reputed to have been Prime Minister Winston Churchill's favorite film, which, if true, is prima-facie evidence that he was an old softie at heart.

A frothy historical romance as only Hollywood could create, the film is broadly faithful to the facts. Low-born Emma Hart (Vivien Leigh), the courtesan lover of the English aristocrat Charles Greville, is shipped off in 1786 to Naples to be, unbeknownst to her, the mistress of Greville's uncle, England's envoy to the Kingdom of Naples, Sir William Hamilton (Alan Mowbray). But, William is so smitten by Emma's beauty as to marry her, and the latter becomes Lady Emma Hamilton in 1791. In that capacity, she first meets Horatio Nelson (Laurence Olivier) in 1793, when he anchors his ship in Naples to officially seek the kingdom's help in providing reinforcements against the French. They don't meet again until five years later, after Nelson's famous victory in the Battle of the Nile, by which time he's lost an arm and his health. The latter is restored to the Admiral while under the Hamiltons' roof and Emma's care, during which time Nelson and his nurse fall in love. The rest is history. The Hamiltons and the Admiral returned to England where, in 1801, all three - or four, if you count Horatia, Nelson's daughter by Emma - moved into a house near present day Wimbledon purchased by Horatio after spurning his legal wife, Frances. William Hamilton died in 1803. Nelson died a national hero at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Ignored by the British government, Emma became destitute and died an alcoholic in Calais in 1815.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is a must for the Olivier collector.
Published 1 month ago by Peg
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't pass up an opportunity to see these great actors together
Vivian was Olivier's greatest love, mentioning her, it is said, even on his death bed. It's a film about a celebrated British naval hero and love that happens to already married... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Newbury Lady
5.0 out of 5 stars That Hamilton Woman
Vivien Leigh and her husband were as great as ever. Again, it's a movie that I saw years ago and still enjoyed it.
Published 5 months ago by Mary B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Another GREAT performance by Vivien Leigh
That Hamilton Woman is by far one of my all time favorite period pieces. It is a great love story between a man and a woman. A love that was meant to be but never should have been. Read more
Published 5 months ago by NHMovieLover
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Restoration
For those of you who like Vivian Leigh, you will really enjoy this movie. The restoration is excellent and shows so well in black and white on a 40" flat screen TV. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Delight
5.0 out of 5 stars Olivier's Hamilton Woman
I found this movie to be another of Olivier's greatest acting. I enjoyed watching this movie very much and I am glad to own it now!
Published 7 months ago by Anna Marie J. Prudente
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful
Because it is a great movie my mom liked i always think of her when i see this movie
Published 7 months ago by laurel
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivien Leigh at her best
Real tear jerker but worth all of the tissues. She showed what a truly good actress she was and I was never
a real fan before.
Published 8 months ago by Italian cook
5.0 out of 5 stars Visual treat
Beautifully photographed and well told story. The production stays pretty close to actual events in the lives of Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton, a refreshing change from typical... Read more
Published 9 months ago by C. Ferry
5.0 out of 5 stars Tumultuous for that time in movie making history
It is said that this was Winston Churchill's favorite movie, that he saw it 80 times and was an instrument in making it notorious. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Jackie M. Sthilaire
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