The Duchess

Synopsis: Georgiana Spencer became Duchess of Devonshire on her marriage to the Duke in 1774, at the height of the Georgian period, a period of fashion, decadence, and political change. Spirited and adored by the public at large she quickly found her marriage to be a disappointment, defined by her duty to produce a male heir and the Duke's philandering and callous indifference to her. She befriends Lady Bess but finds she is once again betrayed by her husband who wields his power with the three eventually living uncomfortably together. Against this background, and with the pressures of an unfaithful husband, strict social pressures and constant public scrutiny, Georgiana falls passionately in love with Charles Grey, a rising young Whig politician. However, despite his ongoing liaison with Lady Bess, the Duke refuses to allow her to continue the affair and threatens to take her children from her.
Director(s): Saul Dibb
Production: Paramount Vantage
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 21 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
110 min

Lord Thomas.

Lord Henry.

Lord Ambrose.

Lord Robert.

Lord Walter.

You'd better not let me down,

Charles Grey.

- I've got 20 guineas riding on you.

- Only 20? I'd double that if I were you.

Come on, ladies.

Gentlemen, twice around the course,

on my count.

Three, two,


- Come on, Mr. Grey!

- Come on, Thomas!

- Come on, Mr. Grey!

- Run, Lord Walter!

Come on, Mr. Grey!

Come on, Mr. Grey.

You're tired already.

- Come on, Mr. Grey!

- Faster!

I trust Your Grace still finds Georgiana

an attractive girl?

Of course, Lady Spencer.

She's an accomplished lady of quality

and devoted to her duties.

She's fluent in French, Italian, Latin

and fully versed in horsemanship

and dancing and...

Yes, I'm aware of all that.

She's a credit to you.

I can't think of anything

that would stand in the way

of a singularly happy marriage.

These are not the issues

that burden the Duke, Lady Spencer.

It is His Grace's duty to produce an heir.

On the other hand,

your daughter may expect

a handsome reward when that occurs.

- Thank you, Heaton.

- Your Grace.

Your Grace may rest assured.

The women in our family

have never forfeited on that account.

Well, with that assurance...

So be it, then.

Come on, Mr. Grey!

I do apologize, ladies,

but it appears that my horse has won.

Beat me again, Charles.

- Well done, Mr. Grey.

- Well done.

- So how much do we owe you?

- You owe me 40.

- Twenty, 40.

- My reward?

And what do you suggest?

Your mother wishes to see you,

Lady Georgiana.

Thank you.

I must apologize, Mama.

Were we making too much noise?

Not at all, my darling.

We have more important things

to talk of. Come here.

- I have heard a rumor.

- Yes?

That I will soon be addressing

my daughter

as Her Grace,

the Duchess of Devonshire.

- Is it true, Mama?

- It is.

The Duke of Devonshire?

I had hoped not to part with you

until 18 at the soonest,

but, with such a fine match,

it would be selfish of me

not to let you go.

- He loves me?

- Yes, of course.

I have only met him twice.

When one truly loves someone,

one doesn't have to know them well

to be sure, Georgiana.

One feels it right away.

- I do believe you will be happy with him.

- I shall, Mama. I know I shall.

- Come on!

- She's here!

Your Grace! Your Grace!

- There she is!

- Duchess!

What do they want?

To see me and my new wife, of course.

It can be a nuisance,

but you'll get used to it.

Welcome, Your Grace.

Come, boys. Come on.

Hugo, Hugo. Come.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

It's all right. Yes, yes. This way.

Hugo. Come, boy. Come.

Scissors. You may go.

For the life of me,

I could never understand

why women's clothes

must be so damn complicated.

It's just our way

of expressing ourselves, I suppose.

Whatever do you mean?

Well, you have so many ways

of expressing yourselves,

whereas we must make do

with our hats and our dresses.

Would you go to the bed?

One has to accept one's responsibility.

Certain obligations come with marriage,

no matter how burdensome

they may seem.

Yes, but when we are together...

But when we are together, intimately,

I mean...

I know. It can be a bother.

However, it is only

until you have given him a son.

Then the occasions will become fewer

and less determined.

I think it might feel different

if he would talk to me

every once in a while.

I mean, it's not that he's unkind,

but he never talks to me.

I thought that he would be like Papa,

that under his cool reserve

there'd be a wealth of depth

and sentiment,

but he isn't interested in anything,

apart from his dogs.

Try not to be too hard on His Grace, G.

He's merely intent on fulfilling his duty.

And as for talking to him,

well, whatever is there to talk about?

No, you're quite right.

How foolish of me to think

that I should be able to converse

with my husband.

Georgiana, equip yourself with patience,

fortitude and resignation.

A boy will come soon enough,

and then you'll see.

But we, the Whig Party, simply see this

as just, right and sensible.

Just to bring independence to America.

Right to abolish the slave trade.

And sensible to bring freedom

to the common man,

so the blessings of this blessed plot,

this England,

may be more equally enjoyed

by all of its inhabitants.

I would like to propose a toast

to our host and benefactor

His Grace the Duke

and his beautiful new Duchess.

Please be upstanding.

- The Duke and Duchess!

- The Duke and Duchess!

Excellent speech, Mr. Fox.

I thank you. It is always easier

to address a congregation of friends,

particularly when those friends

are drunk.

And how did the Duchess find

Mr. Fox's speech?

I must confess, I am not yet at ease

with political speeches.

Their very form tends to obstruct

my view of their actual meaning,

if such there be.

In which particular section

of the speech

did the message elude Your Grace?

Well, I have great sympathy

with your sentiments in general,

but I fail to fully comprehend

how far we, the Whig Party, that is,

are fully committed

to the concept of freedom.

- We intend to extend the vote.

- To all men?

Heavens, no. But certainly to more men.

Freedom in moderation.

- "Freedom in moderation"?

- Precisely.

I'm sure you are

full of the best intentions, Mr. Fox,

but I dare say

I would not spend my vote,

if I had it, of course,

on so vague a statement.

One is either free or one is not.

The concept of freedom is an absolute.

After all,

one cannot be moderately dead

or moderately loved or moderately free.

It must always remain

a matter of either or.

I think it appropriate to say a few words.


Could you check the chamber

- and see if you can find...

- Your Grace.

...different kinds of French lace?

- Is anything the matter?

- No.

- You just left.

- Yes. Well, I had done eating,

and those damn speeches

bore me to distraction.

I think we have to ban them

in the future.

But you are the Whigs' main supporter.

Yes. Well,

I've no problem with the politics.

It's just the rhetoric I can't stand.

- Shall I come with you?

- No. I mean, why ever should you?

The Duke is perfectly well.

He simply wanted to rest a while.

Do sit down, gentlemen.

Was it the length of the speech

that got the better of the Duke?

Certainly not.

He enjoyed it immensely

and expressed a hope

that next time it would be even longer.

- Your Grace.

- Mr. Fox.

- What's going on?

- Nothing to concern you.

- I don't understand.

- Come here.

You look very beautiful tonight.

Is this dress your design?

Yes, it is. Thank you.

Then I think you should allow

your husband to appreciate it

in a little more detail.

Come here.

- Yes, send them in.

- Are we having company?

Don't you think

this mutton has a funny taste?

- No. Not really, no.

- I think it does.

G, this is Charlotte,

and she will be staying with us.


Because her mother is dead,

and she has no other place to go.

Have you fathered that child?

It's... It's only a little girl, G.

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Jeffrey Hatcher

Jeffrey Hatcher is an American playwright and screenwriter. He wrote the stage play Compleat Female Stage Beauty, which he later adapted into a screenplay, shortened to just Stage Beauty (2004). He also co-wrote the stage adaptation of Tuesdays with Morrie with author Mitch Albom, and Three Viewings, a comedy consisting of three monologues - each of which takes place in a funeral home. He wrote the screenplay Casanova for director Lasse Hallström, as well as the screenplay for The Duchess (2008). He has also written for the Peter Falk TV series Columbo and E! Entertainment Television. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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