32 user 15 critic

Désirée (1954)

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


Henry Koster
Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Marlon Brando ... Napoleon Bonaparte
Jean Simmons ... Désirée Clary
Merle Oberon ... Empress Josephine
Michael Rennie ... Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte
Cameron Mitchell ... Joseph Bonaparte
Elizabeth Sellars ... Julie - Désirée's Sister
Charlotte Austin ... Paulette Bonaparte
Cathleen Nesbitt ... Mme. Bonaparte
Evelyn Varden ... Marie
Isobel Elsom ... Mme. Clary - Désirée's Mother
John Hoyt ... Talleyrand
Alan Napier ... Despreaux
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mary Stewart ... Minor Role


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


The life...the women...the conquests of Napoleon!


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Director Henry Koster was an amateur Napoleon scholar, something that Darryl F. Zanuck did not know when he assigned him to the picture. See more »


Jean Bernadotte's name is mispronounced throughout the film. It is actually pronounced BER-NAH-DOH. See more »


Count Brahe: You will enjoy life in Sweden, madame. Stockholm is called the Venice of the north.
Desiree Clary: [Shivering] I prefer the Venice of the south!
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Mouth (2008) See more »


Desiree & Napoleon (PlaIsir D'Amour)
Composed By Johann Martini
Orchestrated By Alexander Courage
See more »

User Reviews

Fantastic, and beautiful costumes!
29 July 2017 | by HotToastyRagSee all my reviews

I fell in love with Marlon Brando's and Jean Simmons's chemistry in Guys and Dolls, but I didn't know until recently that they'd made another film together prior to their musical pairing. In Desiree, Brando plays Napoleon Bonaparte, and once again, he's paired up with Jean Simmons, the title character. Yes, we all know Bonaparte married a woman named Josephine, not Desiree, so what's the story about?

Daniel Taradash wrote a very interesting script, with exciting, passionate characters. The film lasts decades, starting from Bonaparte's introduction to Desiree, before he changed his name, through the memorable Battle of Waterloo. As famous a figure as he was, the film actually focuses on Desiree, the woman torn between Bonaparte and Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. She's vivacious, loving, strong, and smart. It's easy to see how the two very powerful men fell in love with her. And if you thought Jean and Brando had sizzling chemistry together, just wait until you see her with Michael Rennie. He's absolutely adorable in this movie, and when Brando humiliates Jean by leaving her for Merle Oberon, it's no wonder she considers crying on Michael's very tall, comforting shoulder.

The Oscar nominated costumes, designed by Charles Le Maire and Rene Hubert, are exquisitely beautiful. Jean gets to wear a different gown in every scene, even in the diary-writing montages. She wears a gorgeous turquoise dress for only ten seconds, but it's a beautiful ten seconds. If you've only seen Jean in The Big Country or Guys and Dolls, you've got to rent this movie if only to see how beautiful she looks when she really dolls up (no pun intended). Even though Brando gets first billing, it's her show.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 32 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »





English | Swedish

Release Date:

11 February 1955 (Belgium) See more »

Also Known As:

Désirée See more »

Filming Locations:

Paris France See more »


Box Office


$2,720,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed