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Napoleon needs money to fight his wars in Europe so he wants 20 million dollars for the Louisiana Territory in the United States. To help the negotiations, he sends his brother, Jerome, to the U.S. on a goodwill tour. At a Maryland Horse Track, Jerome shows up without notice and soon wins an afternoon tour with Betsy. He falls for her, but she will have little to do with him. She is currently being courted by Henry, John and Harry. The next day, Jerome gets a job teaching Betsy French and they soon fall in love. The family dissuades this as they believe that he is but a tutor. When they meet again at a reception in Washington, Betsy consents to marriage, but Napoleon wants Jerome to marry into European Royalty and demands that Jerome do what is in the best interests of France. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Claude Rains masterful performance as Napoleon is wasted in this rather bland mess that was clearly meant to be a showcase for star Marion Davies. In the film, Napoleon sends his brother Bonaparte (Dick Powell) to America where he is to negotiate $20 million for the Louisiana Territory. Once there, he ends up teaching French to the beautiful Elizabeth Patterson (Davies) and eventually falls in love with her, which doesn't sit too well with his brother. It's well known that Davies felt at ease with a good comedy but the costume dramas made her nervous and that's obvious here in this film, which besides a few good things turns out to be a complete mess. Based on true events, the movie changes history around to fit the story so those looking for the truth might want to settle with a book on the subject. Hearst obviously thought Davies could handle the material but she can't and sadly she comes off looking pretty weak her. There wasn't a single scene where I believed her as this character as she didn't look the part nor was she able to act it. Powell, selected by Davies, isn't any better and often just appears to be modeling for the camera. The two of them have absolutely no chemistry together and this really kills the love story trying to be pushed here. The main reason to watch this film is for Rains performance, which is another great one by the character actor. He does a great job at filling the part of Napoleon and one can't help but wish the entire movie be built around him. Rains plays the character quite low but that power (or evilness) is easily viewable just by looking at his eyes. The film isn't helped any by some really silly dialogue or rather lampoonish scenes including one where a group of men follow Davies character up a tree. In the end, there might have been a good story somewhere here but one can't help that the producers didn't find it.
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