Louis Napoleon III takes advantage of the American Civil War to circumvent the Monroe Doctrine and expand his power by helping Emperor Maximillian Hapsburg to add Mexico to his empire. of Mexico.



(screen play), (screen play) (as Aeneas MacKenzie) | 3 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
General Marechal Achille Bazaine
Alejandro Uradi
Colonel Miguel Lopez
General Miguel Miramon
Dr. Samuel Basch
Le Marc
Walter Kingsford ...
Lady in Waiting
Jose de Montares


The newly-named Emperor Maximillian, the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire, arrives in Mexico in the early 1860s with his wife Carlotta to face popular sentiment favoring Benito Juarez and popular demand for democracy. With an elite group of Mexican monarchists, Maximillian tries to appease the democratic Mexicans but he fails. Abraham Lincoln continues to support Juarez and asks the French to withdraw support for Maximilian. Carlotta goes to France to plead with Napoleon III, to no avail. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Mighty King . . . A Proud Queen ! . . . pitted against a humble man who had the courage to defy the throne ! See more »


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Parents Guide:






Release Date:

10 June 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Juárez  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (Turner library print) | (original release)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Extensive research was done to provide accuracy. The writers had a bibliography of 372 books. Art director Anton Grot made 3,643 sketches from which 7,360 blueprints were prepared for exterior and interior settings. A complete Mexican village was built on the Warner Bros. ranch in the San Fernando Valley. See more »


When Napoleon lll is informed in a letter that Robert E. Lee has been defeated at Gettysburg, he responds by paraphrasing Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address by calling democracy as government for the people, by the people, etc. He couldn't have known Lincoln's rhetorical flourish because the actual speech wasn't given until mid November 1863. See more »


Empress Carlotta von Hapsburg: More than an empire is in danger. My husband's life. And knowing this, you could abandon him? Answer me, sire!
Emperor Louis Napoleon III: Regardless of my personal sentiments, I am, as you see, Madame, in the hands of my ministers.
Empress Carlotta von Hapsburg: In the hands of your ministers! Was it you or your ministers who conceived the plan to mask your infamies behind my husband's noble name? Who tricked him into accepting the throne by means of a pretended plebiscite? Who assured him of French troops and French funds until the day that the ...
See more »


Featured in All About Bette (1994) See more »


La Paloma
(1861) (uncredited)
Written by Sebastián Yradier
Sung offscreen twice by an unidentified woman
Reprised by an unidentified woman before Maximilian's execution
Variations played as part of the score
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User Reviews

Aherne Shines!
3 February 2004 | by (West Virginia) – See all my reviews

Brian Aherne, as the Emperor Maximillian, is the strongest thing going for this historical film depicting the failed attempt by Louis Napoleon to create a puppet government in Mexico. The rest of the casting is uneven at best. John Garfield is badly miscast as Diaz, as is that great character actor Donald Crisp. Paul Muni playing the Zapotac Indian, Benito Juarez, manages to just look stoic and sullen and is not called upon to do much acting. Maybe it's the makeup! Claude Rains and Gale Sondergaard are outstanding as Napoleon III and his queen Eugenie and they play at the devious political game with just the right amount of intrigue.

The film is historically correct and that is part of the problem. The filmmakers put every incident that led to the fall of Maximillian into the story and the film drags on and on. It's more information that we need to know.

There are mixed opinions on the Bette Davis portrayal of Empress Carlotta, the unstable wife of Maximillian. Hers is an interesting story but Davis may not have put enough incipient madness into her characterization.

On the whole,this is a pretty good history lesson with no Hollywood happy ending tacked on, that tells of a well meaning, gentle man who was badly used by the French emperor, sent to rule a people of whom he knew nothing, in a land where he was not wanted. And Aherne absolutely is perfect for the part.....he is the star of this film.

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