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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 <email@example.com>
Orry-Kelly designed costumes for Bette Davis which changed in tone as the film progressed: from white at the beginning, changing to gray in mid-film, and then to black at the end when she goes insane. 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 »
You see, Porfirio, when a monarch misrules, he changes the people, but when a presidente misrules, the people change him.
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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 »
Interesting glimpse of Mexican history with its phantom emperor...
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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