Winter Driving Best Books of the Month Men's Leather Watches Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon St Lucia Explore Home Audio All-New Amazon Fire TV Subscribe & Save Valentine's Day Cards Knock snow out cold Amazon Gift Card Offer girls2 girls2 girls2  Amazon Echo All-New Fire Kindle Paperwhite Winter Sports on Amazon.com SnS

Format: DVDChange
Price:$30.04+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

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.
0Comment41 of 41 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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.
0Comment29 of 31 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 10, 2001
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.
33 comments29 of 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon August 14, 2006
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. Indeed, it's in Calais that THAT HAMILTON WOMAN opens and closes; Emma tells her story in flashback form to a fellow prison inmate (Heather Angel) after being arrested for public disorderliness.

THAT HAMILTON WOMAN is perhaps typical of the genre of the time. It's a good film, not great. The chief reason to watch is to discern its appeal to Churchill, who obviously found inspiration and a kindred spirit in the Tinseltown Nelson, whose impassioned speeches against the continental tyrant (Napoleon) and the need for his country to fight the dictator even if England stood alone reflected Winston's own feelings about the battle against Hitler and Nazi Germany in the months before Pearl Harbor and America's entry into the war, the salvation so desperately sought by the PM.

From an historical point of view, the serious or casual student of the Trafalgar naval confrontation between the British and Franco-Spanish fleets will likely find fault. The battle scenes, using ship models, show vessels blowing up in great cataclysms of fire and smoke, and one actually capsizes. Trafalgar wasn't like that. Tactics dictated that opposing battleships maneuver up close and personal and fire withering volleys of hard, non-explosive shot at each other at point blank range to take down masts, reduce the decks (above the waterline) to kindling, and kill as many opposing sailors as possible. Only then would a ship surrender and be taken and converted to prize-money by the victorious captain and crew. To this end, actual sinking of an opponent was counterproductive. For a better understanding of Trafalgar and naval tactics of the period, I recommend Adam Nicolson's excellent book, Seize the Fire : Heroism, Duty, and the Battle of Trafalgar.

Any Vivien Leigh fan will find much to like in THAT HAMILTON WOMAN though, since GONE WITH THE WIND had been released only a couple of years prior, I kept half-expecting Leigh's character to break into a southern accent and pine for Tara. I especially liked the melodramatic ending when, after Captain Hardy (Henry Wilcoxon) rides his gallant steed off-camera after breaking the news of Nelson's death to Emma, the latter shuts the drapes across a massive window and collapses in a faint - a nice allusion to "the final curtain" closing on an epic love story. How "Hollywood" can you get?

Since this DVD was produced by Buddha Video in Taiwan, there's the unusual (to American audiences) availability of Chinese subtitles. Turn them "on" to view with Chinese take-out.
22 comments23 of 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 31, 2003
This movie is without a doubt Vivien Leighs greatest movie. It tells the true story of one of histories best known, albeit, illicit love affairs. Lady Hamilton begins and ends life sad and without means, but oh those years in between! Emma and her co-adulter Lord Nelson share a wonderful yet tragic love, unfortunately a child was born of this union and shuffled off to a boarding home,evidently without sharing in the love the parents nurtured for many years, actually until death took Lord Nelson. What a shame that many of Viviens roles paralleled her own sometimes tragic life. Mores the pity she didn't make many, many movies in her younger years when she showed such beauty and vitality, before her mental illness robbed her of much happiness and success and tuberculosis robbed her of her life.
0Comment15 of 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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.
0Comment18 of 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon January 2, 2010
My mother took me to see "That Hamilton Woman" sixty-eight years ago in a Hollywood movie theatre, and I have never forgotten either the film, or its poignant last line. I am therefore happy to discover that far from being a remnant of my child's imagination, the film has lost none of its charm. In Black and White, its excellence exudes virtual "colour" because of its splendid combination of romance and history, its magnificent cinematography, and the acting of its protagonists.

Vivien Leigh portrays Emma, Lady Hamilton, with coquettish grace, and Lawrence Olivier endows Horatio Nelson with proper "heart of oak". Both of them suggest a selfishness of the "all for love and the world well lost" variety. Alan Mobray, who plays Sir William Hamilton, conveys a quiet dignity as he acknowledges the inevitability of the notorious love affair of his wife, who was some thirty-four years his junior. Hamilton, British Ambassador to the court of Naples at the turn of the 18th century, was a a noted antiquarian who, along with the King and Queen of Naples, "collected" artifacts from the newly discovered Pompeii and Herculaneum. He has married Emma out of charity, and, because of guilt, she accuses of him of collecting her along with his statues and art objects. The only character I did not care for was Lady Nelson, who was relentlessly glacial. One gets the feeling that Alexander Korda directed her to be as unsympathetic as possible, in order to weight the audience's sympathies in favor of the lovers, since the morality of the affair was considered unsuitable in the cinema of the 'forties.

The Battle of Trafalgar is breathtaking. HMS Victory was constructed to scale, but the ships-of-the-line in the background were the size of dinghies, manipulated like puppets by prop men inside of them. The battle took place in a tank with wind machines that roil the water convincingly. One would never guess that this elegant set was jerrybuilt on a low budget. It makes many of the CGI effects in films today seem paltry in comparison.

According to Michael Korda's fascinating interview, Churchill encouraged Alexander Korda to make the film for propaganda purposes in order to get the United States to join the war--a problem that became irrelevant by December of 1941; and while the anti-Napoleon/tyrant message may seem quaint to today's audience, it certainly did not when I first saw the film. To us Americans, Nelson epitomised British courage in the face of the onslaught of the twentieth-century tyrant, whom I am not going to dignify with a name, and what can, without hyperbole, be termed the forces of evil. Although the same message was conveyed with slightly more subtlety in "Casablanca" of the previous year, considered in its historical context, it is not out of place in "That Hamilton Woman," the performances of which transcend the message.
11 comment6 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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.
0Comment6 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 13, 2001
Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier made 2 films together before they were wed, but THAT HAMILTON WOMAN is the first and last they would ever make as husband and wife. Fresh into their marriage, this film is a celebration of their real-life love. The on-screen chemistry between the two is visually apparent. The costumes and settings are lavish and eye-appealing. Vivien's closeups are remarkably beautiful and stunning (similar to those in Waterloo Bridge). Olivier offers a great performance, but obviously Leigh steals the show as Emma. This film is a masterpiece, a definite must have for any video collector!
0Comment6 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon October 3, 2009
As soon as you see Alexander Korda's classic 1941 film of the star-crossed love of Lord Horatio Nelson and Emma, Lady Hamilton you'll see why it was Winston Churchill's favorite film, which he reputedly screened dozens and dozens of times. Korda spared almost no expense on the sets, which are grandly elaborate on a scale worthy of MGM; the sea battles, particularly at Trafalgar, are beautifully and elaborately detailed, and show terrific models in almost convincing military action; and there are multiple propagandistic speeches about standing up to tyrants and allowing little England its freedom that clearly spoke to the Second World War (right then near its darkest hour). And in the leads there are the real-life couple of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, showing genuine sexual chemistry and intelligence between them. The part of Emma Hamilton is basically tailor-made for Leigh: she gets to show off some of her usual bursts of minxish energy in the film's early sections, when she's a foolish thing being wooed by Sir William Hamilton; later, bowed by worry and love, she gets to show her more skills as a mature woman that did not endear her to her public quite as much as her vixenish sulks (as with Scarlett O'Hara in the early scenes of GONE WITH THE WIND) but where she showed her genuine talents laid. And this is one of Olivier's best roles: he's quite sexy as Lord Nelson, despite the convincing makeup that shows his wounds and ruined eye after the Battle of the Nile, and he manages to seem simultaneously sure of himself in battle and winningly underconfident in matters of the heart.

They are given little help from their supporting cast, the film's weakest aspect: to stack the deck in terms of the audience's sympathies in favor of Lady Hamilton, Gladys Cooper, in her most inflexible and unlovable form, is cast as the frowning Lady Nelson; Alan Mowbray fares slightly better as the limping elderly Sir William Hamilton; and Sara Allgood gets a few good jokes as Emma's mother despite her clumsy line readings. The best reason to see the film, other than for its stars, are for its gorgeous cinematography, restored to almost pristine purity by Criterion, and its astonishing sets (there is an interior of the main hall outside the old House of Lords that is a kind of miracle of matte painting effects).
0Comment5 of 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse