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John G. Adolfi
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>
An English-language version of Franz Werfel's play titled "Juarez and Maximilian" opened on Broadway at the Guild Theatre on October 11, 1926, and ran for 48 performances. This stage version's cast included Alfred Lunt and Edward G. Robinson. The film is an extremely loose adaptation of Werfel's play. Juarez never appears in the stage version. The only one of Werfel's works to be quite faithfully adapted into a Hollywood film was "The Song of Bernadette", filmed in 1943 as The Song of Bernadette (1943). Werfel's play "Jacobowsky and the Colonel" was filmed by Hollywood as a Danny Kaye vehicle and re-titled Me and the Colonel (1958). See more »
About 72 minutes into the film the Imperial Mexican soldiers are committing executions in a village. Pepe, the 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 »
[as Juarez views the dead body of Maximillian lying in state]
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In 1952, the film was re-released and several key scenes were removed, particularly sequences that contained dialogue that criticized countries which, in 1939 had been regarded as totalitarian, but which, by the early 1950s had become Cold War allies of the United States and could therefore no longer be criticized as imperialist adventurers. Germany and Italy, especially, former enemies in the 1940s, were now the cornerstone of NATO. The removal of these scenes obfuscated the narrative considerably, in particular, removing any clear reasons behind the execution of the Emperor Maximilian at the conclusion of the film. This revised print runs 106 minutes and is the version released on video and generally available today. The 1939 version is preserved on nitrate stock in the Warner Archive. See more »
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 See more »
Although there are some mistakes historically speaking,this is an absorbing screenplay,with superlative performances by Paul Muni,Bette Davis and Brian Aherne,who should have been at the top of the bill too,for he has more scenes than his two co-stars.
Muni is almost frightening with his impassive face and his slow delivery.If looks could kill,his certainly would...
Davis ,although she does not look like Charlotte physically ,gives a captivating portrayal of the empress.The scene when she prays Virgin Mary is impressive ,but not true: she was not sterile,but she and the emperor used to sleep apart!Their relationship was much more complex than the one depicted by Dieterlé: actually,the emperor was often away,it seemed that their strange love worked from a distance.Little by little,Maximilian lost all interest in power and Charlotte was ruling while he was gone (which often happened)or was staying in his Cuernavaca "paradise" .
Aherne is Maximilian in the flesh.It's interesting to notice that his brother Francis-Joseph had deprived him of all his rights and his titles in Austria.Historians generally agree that he would not have accepted the Mexican throne,if Charlotte had not been his wife. the problem is that the film doesn't show us the couple BEFORE they get to Mexico:one thing to bear in mind is that Max did not accept the throne overnight;and many people in Europa (notably Queen Victoria and Empress Elizabeth aka "Sissi" ) had warned them it was more a curse than a blessing.Charlotte (Carlotta) ,someone reportedly said ,wanted to reign over any people anywhere.Sissi called her Max's black angel. Maximilian is depicted as a chivalrous noble sovereign which he was in a way.But of course ,he had lots of (Mexican)lovers since he didn't sleep with his wife
Dieterlé does not pass over in silence the obnoxious role played by Napoleon the Third (and wife Eugénie de Montijo).Charlotte does show her contempt:"He is an impostor,his family is not an old one like ours ".The famous scene of the orangeade is included .Today,no serious historian would put forward that the drink was poisoned.But it might be possible that she was poisoned before leaving Mexico.Davis shines when she plays these scenes of madness.The scenes in Paris are not thoroughly accurate though:Eugenie (an incredibly beautiful Sondergaard) met first Carlotta alone in the Grand Hotel -they did not invite her to the Tuileries,which meant a lot about what they felt-Metternich was not the person who helped Carlotta :she first took refuge in the Vatican where the pope had trouble to get rid of her,then her sister-in-law Marie -Henriette ,queen of Belgium,came to her rescue when she was treated almost like a prisoner in Miramar.
All that concerns Maximilian's death is accurate ,his last words were "poor Charlotte!"
Poor Charlotte indeed.She was to outlive almost everyone,even Empress Eugenie! She died in 1927,after years and years of insanity with occasional moments of lucidity ,notably during WW1.
Dieterlé's movie is by no means uninteresting,but it would be exciting to film a remake in the light of the recent works about the Mexican adventure.
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