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After a brief informal meeting two months earlier when they were impressed with each other, Countess Marie Walewska formally meets Napoleon Bonaparte at a ball in Warsaw. When Napoleon notes her husband is three times her age, and as he is taken with her charms, he unsuccessfully tries to seduce her. She ignores his frequent letters and flowers until a few grim Polish leaders led by Senator Malachowski urge her to give into his desires as a personal sacrifice in order to save Poland. She goes to him despite the humiliation of her husband, who leaves for Rome to annul their marriage. They are extremely happy for a while; Napoleon divorces childless Empress Josephine and Marie eventually becomes pregnant. She is about to tell Napoleon about her baby when he tells her he decided to marry Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria. He explains it will be a political marriage to insure his future son could rule securely with Hapsburg blood in him. It will not affect their relationship, he says, ... Written by
Arthur Hausner <email@example.com>
The lavish ballroom set where Napoleon dances with Marie Walewska is actually identical to that used in Maytime (1937) - the Jeanette McDonald /Nelson Eddy operetta. It has simply been redressed and given a different floor covering and shot from a different angle. See more »
Charles Boyer's Napoleon Bonaparte, the gorgeous sets and costumes, and Greta Garbo's exquisite beauty are good reasons to see this film.
Some scenes in this film drag on too long and others are too wordy, but I thoroughly enjoyed Charles Boyer's performance as Napoleon Bonaparte. His slight accent accentuates believability. The same can be said about Greta Garbo's slight accent, but she is so stunningly beautiful I hardly noticed. She is also excellent in her last dramatic performance. There are two great scenes to watch for: the opening attack of the cossacks, riding their horses inside the stately home of Garbo and Henry Stephenson and wrecking it; and the ball at the palace in Warsaw, filled with noblemen and noblewomen adorned in gorgeous period clothing. (The gowns were designed by Adrian). Both crowd scenes are handled very well by director Clarence Brown. I was a little disappointed in the limited screenplay. Somehow, when I think of Napoleon I think of a grand epic such as "War and Peace," and not just his personal life. The only part of his war life you see is a brief scene of his retreat from Moscow in the harsh Russian winter. I was impressed by Napoleon's vision of a United States of Europe. He would have been delighted at the introduction of the Eurodollar this year.
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