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Marie Antoinette (1938)

Passed | | Biography, Drama, History | 26 August 1938 (USA)
The tragic life of Marie Antoinette, who became queen of France in her late teens.


(as W.S. Van Dyke II), (uncredited)


(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »

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From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Countess de Noailles
La Motte
Comte de Provence (as Albert Van Dekker)


The life of Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) from betrothal and marriage in 1770 to her beheading. At first, she's a Hapsburg teenager isolated in France, living a virgin's life in the household of the Dauphin, a shy solitary man who would like to be a locksmith. Marie discovers high society, with the help of Orleans and her brothers-in-law. Her foolishness is at its height when she meets a Swedish count, Axel de Fersen. He helps her see her fecklessness. In the second half of the film, she avoids an annulment, becomes queen, bears children, and is a responsible ruler. The affair of the necklace and the general poverty of France feed revolution. She faces death with dignity. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

26 August 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

María Antonieta  »


Box Office


$2,926,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


| (original road show print including entry, intermission and exit music)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Gladys George (who plays du Barry) and the real Jeanne Bécu, comtesse du Barry, share the same death day. George died from a cerebral hemorrhage on Dec. 8, 1954, while the comtesse was a victim of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution and was guillotined on Dec. 8, 1793 - less than two months after Marie Antionette's own execution. See more »


In the lavish ball sequence at Versailles that appears to take place in the famous Hall of Mirrors, King Louis XV (and later, Mme du Pompadour) arrives by descending a huge flight of stairs. Yet the real Hall of Mirrors has no stairs, at either end. See more »


Count Axel de Fersen: When I'm gone you'll be glad that I didn't stand in the path of your destiny making you less than you were meant to be.
Marie: And that other kingdom? The love, the youth, the happiness we might have had... what of that?
Count Axel de Fersen: We shall dream of it more tenderly because we didn't destroy it.
Marie: Shall I never see you again?
Count Axel de Fersen: If you need me I shall come to you.
Marie: [Through tears] I shall always need you.
Count Axel de Fersen: And if I should ask you, "Was it well done?", you'll tell me, "It was well done."
Marie: Take me in your arms again.
See more »


La Marseillaise
(1792) (uncredited)
Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Played over the opening credits
Reprised as background music at the start of the French Revolution
Played again at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

Rediscovering Norma Shearer

As a young actress still in her 20s, Norma Shearer was hailed as the First Lady of MGM, and she reigned as queen of the studio throughout the 1930s. For about two decades after early retiring in 1942, she was fondly remembered by fans and critics, but slowly she was forgotten. Then in the early 70s, antagonistic film critic Pauline Kael, grudge-holding MGM rival Joan Crawford and others took delight in trashing her, usually with the implication that Norma's greatest talent was finding a powerful husband (Irving Thalberg). Unfortunately, those unfair remarks carried great weight since Shearer's movies were unavailable on video and rarely shown on TV.

We're now able to see her talent for ourselves, thanks largely to Turner Classic Movies, and Norma Shearer's star is rising again.

If you've never seen a Shearer movie, Marie Antoinette is a good beginning. It is one of Hollywood's great epics of the 1930s, with lavish costumes and scenery, and its historic setting holds up well. Shearer plays the doomed French queen from teenager to the Guillotine, and the final scenes as she awaits death in prison are among the finest of her career.

In recent years, Shearer has gained new respect for her silent films, in which she was one of the most accomplished young actresses of the era. Two standouts are Lady of the Night and A Lady of Chance, in which she plays "worldly" women with a sly wit. She was not a typical ingénue, and you can see why sophisticated audiences of the time were enchanted by her.

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