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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.

Directors:

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

Writers:

Claudine West (screen play), Donald Ogden Stewart (screen play) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Norma Shearer ... Marie Antoinette
Tyrone Power ... Count Axel de Fersen
John Barrymore ... King Louis XV
Robert Morley ... King Louis XVI
Anita Louise ... Princesse de Lamballe
Joseph Schildkraut ... Duke d'Orléans
Gladys George ... Mme. du Barry
Henry Stephenson ... Count de Mercey
Cora Witherspoon ... Countess de Noailles
Barnett Parker ... Prince de Rohan
Reginald Gardiner ... Comte d'Artois
Henry Daniell ... La Motte
Leonard Penn ... Toulan
Albert Dekker ... Comte de Provence (as Albert Van Dekker)
Alma Kruger ... Empress Maria Theresa
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Storyline

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


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 August 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

María Antonieta See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Black and White (Sepiatone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film became the favorite movie of Eva Perón, who so admired Norma Shearer's style that she later dyed her hair blonde. See more »

Goofs

The stately minuet heard at the lavish ball sequence hosted by the Duc D'Orleans at Versailles, is from Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, which was composed in 1787. A few moments after the Minuet ends, King Louis XV arrives. He died in 1774 and therefore, this music could not possibly have been played at such an event as it had yet to be written. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Marie Antoinette: What can Mama want at this time of night? I was nearly asleep. Is it something I've done, do you think? What did she say? Did she look cross?
Mme. 'Feldy' de Lerchenfeld: Solemn, I thought.
Marie Antoinette: Oh, dear, what can it be? What have I done? She can't say much to me anyway. I'm a grown woman.
See more »

Alternate Versions

"Unrestored" film has now been restored and is available on DVD. When the film played the Carthay Circle in Los Angeles and the Astor Theatre in New York as a reserved seat "road show" attraction, the print ran eleven minutes longer than the generally available 149 minute Turner Library print. These eleven minutes contained an overture, entr'acte, and exit music, with an intermission immediately following Antoinette's emotional farewell to Fersen on the steps of Versailles. These remnants of the "road show" presentation have now been restored to the new Warner Bros. Home Video DVD, which runs a little over 157 minutes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Romance of Celluloid (1937) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Norma's zenith and with one exception the end of her reign
15 February 2014 | by jjnxn-1See all my reviews

Made directly after Irving Thalberg's death but arranged by him beforehand this was Norma's final solo showcase. A mixture of the loss of her behind the scenes champion, poor script judgment and her vanity which caused her to turn down possible career savers Mrs. Miniver and Old Acquaintance lead to her days as a top star coming to an end. She still had a few decent pictures in her future, most notably The Women, but this is the last of her big star vehicles and her final big success as the main star of a film.

But this is certainly a grand way to end her time at the top. Norma does well in the lead her occasional lapses into grandiosity are well suited to a queen and don't get in the way of her characterization like they often did in several of her other films and her smaller moments are well played. Although this really should have been in color, the sets, wigs and costumes are almost impossibly lavish and are dazzling even in B&W. It's an enjoyable if questionably accurate historical account of Marie's rise and fall.

Aside from Shearer Robert Morley gives a gem of a performance as the not terribly bright Louis XVI, never making him seem a simpleton just a gentle man unequal to the role thrust upon him by birth. There are a few other good performances from Gladys George as the cheap but flashily dressed Madame du Barry and Joseph Schildkraut as the queen's venal cousin. Tyrone Power is impossibly handsome but his part is really window dressing so he doesn't make much of an impression.

Fine through they all are the film would be nothing without Norma. The title role requires someone whose well seasoned star power couldn't be overpowered by the sumptuous trappings and this is Norma's show straight down the line. Perhaps the one she was most suited to it's certainly one of her strongest performances. The film itself is a trifle overlong but for those who stick with it worthwhile entertainment.


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