Désirée (1954)

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The rise and fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France.


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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Julie, Désirée's sister
Charlotte Austin ...
Cathleen Nesbitt ...
Mme. Bonaparte
Evelyn Varden ...
Isobel Elsom ...
Mme. Clary, Désirée's mother
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mary Stewart


In Marseilles, France in 1794, Desiree Clary, a young millinery clerk, becomes infatuated with Napoleon Bonaparte, but winds up wedding Genaral Jean-Baptiste Berandotte, an aid to Napoleon who later joins the forces that bring about the Emperor's downfall. Josephine Beauharnais, a worldly courtesan marries Napoleon and becomes Empress of France, but is then cast aside by her spouse when she proves unable to produce an heir to the throne. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

11 February 1955 (Belgium)  »

Also Known As:

Desirée  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)


Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?


Montgomery Clift turned down the part of Napoleon. See more »


Desiree Clary: [shouting over an icy wind as they dock in Stockholm] I hope we get indoors soon, Jean-Baptiste! I've worn all my warmest underthings and I'm still freezing!
[Her husband raises his eyebrows, a bit shocked but obviously amused]
Desiree Clary: Don't worry, no one's going to pull up my skirts and look!
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Lavish and historic fiction piece about Napoleon and his love interest Desiree
21 July 2010 | by See all my reviews

The film is partially based on historic deeds but predominates the sentimental drama . It develops parallels lives between Napoleon and Desiree. The story starts in Marseilles 1794 , when Robespierre fall , Napoleon is detained but after is freed . Soon Napoleon is rising through the military ranks in the Grand Armee , winning the loyalty of the people . After the conquest of Tolon , Napoleon forms a Directory and in 18 Brumario executes a coup détat in Saint Cloud , being named first Consul (1799) by means of bayonets . He undergoes the Italian campaign and vanquishes Austrians in Marengo, later the Egypt campaign though is defeated in San Vicente , Trafalgar and Abukir (Egypt). In 1796 , he married Josefina Beauharmais, but she can't give him a child , he has to make some dynastic decision and begins to lose control. As proclaiming himself Emperor (1804) at Notre Dame in the presence of Pope Pio XII. As he marries Maria Luisa , daughter of Austrian Emperor . As he named his brothers and sisters as kings , princes and princesses , as Jose (Cameron Mitchell) who married Julia(Elizabeth Sellars), Desiree's sister, they were proclaimed kings of Spain. As the disaster of campaign of Rusia 1812 (Borodino) , then is formed a coalition between Prussians, Austrians and Russians that defeated him in Leipzig and is banished island of Elba . But he returned , 1815, with the¨ One hundred Days Empire¨ being ultimately vanquished in Waterloo . While Desiree ( Jean Simmons) married French General Jean Baptiste Bernadotte ( Michael Rennie)who was appointed French Ambassador to Stockholm . In 1811, shortly before his death, the King of Sweden without descendants named Bernadotte his heir and the people recognized as successor winning the loyalty of the Swedish, it resulted to be a great decision . One time became King of Sweden he united with other countries for the end of Napoleons wars , collaborating in the battle of Leipzig (1813) and Waterloo (1815). In 1815, the Congress of Vienna acclaimed Bernadotte's title as King, and even granted him lands including Norway taken from Napoleon's faithful ally , Denmark. This forced union lasted until 1905 when both countries were separated . Nowadays the family of the Bernadotte and Desiree still are reigning of Sweden.....This is a lavish production detailing the historic existence and tangled love life of Napoleon Bonaparte . A vivid , sentimental portrayal about the famed conqueror and his relationship to Desiree . It depicts life story of Napoleon through the eyes of Desiree from his days as General in the French Army to his exile on the island of Elba and Saint Elaine . Brando never wished to perform the General but owed 20th Century Fox a film and so reluctantly to play it . This is a romanticized historical epic with excessive soap opera , dealing with Napoleon and his lover , however some might find it too slow for their tastes . Spectacular achievement with its use of color , glamorous scenarios, montage and charismatic titular acting by Marlon Brando. But falls short of the classic 1927 silent movie by Abel Gance or 1955 adaptation also titled Napoleon by Sacha Guitry with Raymond Pellegrin and Orson Welles or recent TV rendition by Yves Simoneau with Christian Clavier and Gerard Depardieu .

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