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Juarez (1939)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, History | 10 June 1939 (USA)
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.

Director:

William Dieterle

Writers:

John Huston (screen play), Æneas MacKenzie (screen play) (as Aeneas MacKenzie) | 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Muni ... Benito Juárez
Bette Davis ... Carlota of Mexico
Brian Aherne ... Maximilian I of Mexico
Claude Rains ... Napoléon III
John Garfield ... Porfirio Diaz
Donald Crisp ... General Marechal Achille Bazaine
Joseph Calleia ... Alejandro Uradi
Gale Sondergaard ... Empress Eugénie
Gilbert Roland ... Colonel Miguel Lopez
Henry O'Neill ... General Miguel Miramon
Harry Davenport ... Dr. Samuel Basch
Louis Calhern ... Le Marc
Walter Kingsford ... Prince Richard Metternich
Georgia Caine ... Lady in Waiting
Montagu Love ... Jose de Montares
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

10 June 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Juárez See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Turner library print) | (original)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Because the film shows many of Maximilian's generals to be Mexican, many viewers attribute it to typical Hollywood historical distortions. It is, however, indeed accurate. It's a little-known fact that, although Maximilian was eventually overthrown and executed by Mexican revolutionaries, there were actually more Mexicans fighting on Maximilian's side than against him. This was due in large part to the Catholic Church's strong support of the French occupation of Mexico and its "encouraging" Mexican Catholics to fight against the revolutionary forces by joining Maximilian's army, which they did in large numbers. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Benito Juarez: Virte is a formidable weapon in the hands of an enemy.
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Alternate Versions

The original roadshow version of the film ran 132 minutes and in addition, included a six minute overture created by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. This overture was performed live, conducted by Korngold, at the Hollywood Premiere of the film on April 25, 1939. Roadshow prints had a recording of this overture placed before the film's main titles. See more »


Soundtracks

Battle Hymn of the Republic
(uncredited)
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 »

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User Reviews

 
Interesting glimpse of Mexican history with its phantom emperor...
11 October 2009 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

Warner Bros. obviously spared no expense to do justice to a story of JUAREZ (PAUL MUNI) but spent so much time on the ill-fated reign of Emperor Maximilian (BRIAN AHERNE and his wife Carlotta, BETTE DAVIS), that the film might just as well have been called MAXIMILIAN. An even better title comes from a play on which this is based, called THE PHANTOM EMPEROR.

Brian Aherne has the most screen time in what appears to be the central role.Ironically, he was nominated for an Oscar in the "Best Supporting Role" category. If billing in Hollywood was fair, instead of governed by studio politics, he should have shared star billing with Paul Muni and Bette Davis in the opening credits.

Having said all that, the details of the story have been given in expert fashion by many of the other commentators who are better acquainted with Mexican history than I am, so I can't talk about the accuracy or inaccuracies of the plot. But from a standpoint of entertainment, JUAREZ attempts to do too much in dealing with a complex plot. The talky script full of historical references becomes tedious and the film occasionally drags and loses momentum until an action scene relieves it of monotony. However, the ability of the writers to cover so much ground in the course of little more than two hours is an achievement in itself.

The acting is splendid for the most part--but unfortunately Muni has chosen to play Benito Juarez in almost mute fashion, his stoic expression hardly ever changing and relying on heavy make-up to do the job for him. It doesn't work.

But all those around him can only be congratulated for doing well in roles large and small. Davis is especially compelling in Empress Carlotta's scene of incipient madness; Aherne gives dignity and sympathy to Maximilian; and Claude Rains, Gale Sondergaard, Donald Crisp, Gilbert Roland, Joseph Calleia and Montagu Love are excellent in support.

The only casting misfire is JOHN GARFIELD in swarthy Mexican make-up as Gen. Diaz. He looks out of place even though he attempts to give an earnest performance and his lower New York accent is just below his Mexican one.

Except for a majestic main theme that is used once in awhile, Erich Wolfgang Korngold's overall score did not make a strong impression on me this time.


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