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Olivia de Havilland,
A piano teacher believes that her fiancé was killed on the battlefield. When he miraculously returns, they decide to marry, but are threatened by a wealthy, egotistical composer the piano teacher started dating on the rebound after she became convinced her love had died.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Benito Juarez was only 4ft 6ins tall (1.37 m). See more »
About 72 minutes into the film the Imperial Mexican soldiers are committing executions in a village. A young boy tears down a posting of an Imperial Decree and flees. The commander of the Imperial soldiers draws a Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army and shoots the boy down. As the film is set in 1865, this pistol will not be invented for another eight years. See more »
Battle Hymn of the Republic
Music by William Steffe (circa 1856)
Lyrics by Julia Ward Howe (1862)
Played as part of the score when Abraham Lincoln is mentioned
Extensively played when news of Lincoln's assassination reaches Juarez See more »
Romanticized, over-the-top, a little superficial, but what fun!
From "Pancho Villa Starring Himself" to "The Mexican" and the execrable "Man on Fire" (produced by an Englishman, from an Italian script loosely based on an incident in Columbia... reset in Mexico), Hollywood has never made a film about Mexico that doesn't fall back on clichés and cartoonish "gringo-centric" stereotypes. Despite some problems, Juarez is an honorable exception.
The problem with the screenplay is that Bettina Harding bought the romantic, Euro-centric notion of Max and Carlotta as figures in a "tragic romance". They were patsies for Napoleon III's global ambitions (something the film does very well), but everyone in Mexico knows the two were complete fools who destroyed the economy, and hardly the loving couple depicted in the movie. Max was a syphilitic, pretentious twit. He neglected Carlotta (the "Casa Obvio", his summer house in Cuernavaca that he built, "forgetting" to include rooms for Carlotta is a popular tourist attraction now, and a botanical museum), had a son by his mistress, "la Bonita India" and -- infected his wife.
The other reviewer is unintentionally misleading when he writes that Carlotta lived in seclusion for 60 years. She was bed-ridden most of the time, suffering tertiary syphilis, requiring round-the-clock medical care. She did indeed, like in the film, go bonkers -- but in the Vatican, not in a French palace. The Papacy was a major player in the geo-politics surrounding the Mexican adventure, but the film (perhaps wisely) simplifies the politics.
But, what the hey -- it's Hollywood! It has the perfect cast for this kind of epic: who better to play stoic, long-suffering historical figures than Paul Muni? Who does devious Europeans better than Claude Raines and Donald Crisp? I really enjoy seeing Porfirio Diaz (who later seized the Mexican presidency in a coup, and maintained control for close to 35 years -- and is now a mixed figure in Mexican history, sort of like Lenin with the Russians, or Ataturk among the Turks) played by John Garfield. And who better to go completely bonkers and chew up the scenery than Bette Davis? By all means, watch the movie, but then read your Mexican history.
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