A Polish countess becomes Napoleon Bonaparte's mistress at the urging of Polish leaders, who feel she could influence him to make Poland independent.


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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Alan Marshal ...
Capt. d'Ornano
Count Anastas Walewski
Paul Lachinski (as Leif Erikson)
Countess Pelagia Walewska
Stephan (Marie's servant)
Vladimir Sokoloff ...
Dying soldier
Grand Marshal George Duroc


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 <genart@volcano.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Love Story of Marie Walewska See more »


Drama | History | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 October 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Beloved  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$2,732,000 (estimated)


$2,141,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


Countess Pelagia Walewska: Who are you?
Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte: I am Napoleon!
Countess Pelagia Walewska: Napoleon? Napoleon who?
Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte: Hmm? Bonaparte!
Countess Pelagia Walewska: Napoleon Bonaparte? What kind of name is that? What nationality are you?
Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte: Corsican by birth. French by adoption. Emperor by achievement.
Countess Pelagia Walewska: So, you are an Emperor, are you? What are you Emperor of?
Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte: Emperor of France, madame.
Countess Pelagia Walewska: Hee, hee, hee. So you are Emperor of France. And my very good friend, His Majesty, King Louis Sixteenth abdicated in your honor, I suppose?
Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte: Well, he didn't know it at the time but in a sense he did, madame.
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Featured in MGM Parade: Episode #1.30 (1956) See more »


1812 Overture
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
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User Reviews

Half of it is brilliant! The other half, well...
4 September 2001 | by (california) – See all my reviews

This movie has two halves to evaluate. The first half is brilliant, among the best scenes ever put on film. Boyer gives the performance of his life as the "Little Corporal" trying to woo an obscure (and obscurely beautiful) Polish Countess. Sadly, once she is wooed the movie is lost in a muddle of syrupy sentiment and questionable history lessons.

Boyer is outstanding all the way through the movie. This is the role he was born to play. He is funny, abrupt, insane, and believeable. He puts his whole body into this role. But Garbo - *sigh* - she's better at portraying melancholy than happiness. When she's in love in this movie, it's irritating. Excepting her scene with Dame May Whitty as Napoleon's mother, I just can't stand it.

The second half is just mush. It's plodding, for the most part uninteresting, and sheds no light on Napoleon as a historical figure. Maybe the first half of the movie had so much energy that it was impossible to sustain. In any case, I recommend this movie, if only for Boyer's performance and the opening sequence.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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