Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Anna Neagle is every other inch a lady in the frolicsome costume epic Nell Gwyn. The star is of course cast as the title character, the lusty orange vendor-turned-actress who becomes the "great and good friend" of merry monarch King Charles II (Sir Cedric Hardwicke). This is not to the liking of the King's current favorite, the Duchess of Portsmouth (Jeanne De Casalis), who wastes no time plotting Nell Gwyn's downfall -- only to be banished from court herself. Meanwhile, essayist Samuel Pepys (Esme Percy), the Walter Winchell of his day, records every aspect of the scandalous romance between Nell and the King in colorful detail. Perhaps as a balm to the censors, the story is told in flashback form from the point of view of an aging, dissipated Nell, who has come to learn the terrible price of living life too fully. Despite this cautionary framing device, the film was never meant to be taken seriously: in the opening titles, the screenplay is credited to Miles Malleson, "in collaboration with King Charles II, Samuel Pepys and Nell Gwyn." The film was produced by Anna Neagle's future husband Herbert Wilcox, who'd made a silent version of the same story with Dorothy Gish.
aristocracy, Britain, competition, conflict, costume, court [law], dance [art], dance-hall-girl, death, emotion, espionage, flashback, forbidden-love, hat, hostility, inner-circle, insult, jealousy, king, life, mistress, performer, prostitute/prostitution, public, rival, royalty, visit, woman