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September 30, 2016
The war between England and Spain in the late 16th century serves as backdrop for the fictional machinations of Fire Over England. Laurence Olivier plays a British naval officer who offers his services to Queen Elizabeth (Flora Robson) after his father is executed by the Spaniards. The queen dispatches Olivier to the court of Spain, there to determine which of her courtiers are actually spies for King Philip (Raymond Massey). Working under cover, Olivier learns that the Spaniards intend to send an armada to decimate the British navy. Barely escaping with his life, Olivier relays this information to his queen and also dispatches the traitors in her midst. Cast as one of Elizabeth's ladies-in-waiting, Vivien Leigh appears in the role that brought her to the attention of Gone With the Wind producer David O. Selznick. Directed by Hollywood's William K. Howard, Fire Over England was based on a novel by A.E.W. Mason of Four Feathers fame.