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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

Norma Shearer, in conversations with writer Gavin Lambert (and quoted by Lambert in his biography, "Norma Shearer"), recalled that one of Irving Thalberg's original casting ideas was that of Mrs. Patrick Campbell to play the part of the Countess De Noailles. The role was eventually played by Cora Witherspoon. See more »

Goofs

When Marie and Louis first wedding anniversary is announced, the bells are heard change-ringing. This requires the bells to completely be rotated by a rope wound on a wheel, and was until the 19th century a strictly English way of ringing bells. The bells shown are swinging from trunnions, in the normal French manner. 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

Version of Queen's Necklace (1946) 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

 
"They don't make them this way anymore!"
19 July 2000 | by willyboy_kySee all my reviews

Often said, and, for better or for worse, just as often true: "Marie Antoinette" is one of THE definitive examples of an MGM prestige picture, 1930s style. Years in planning and preproduction, "Marie Antoinette" was Norma Shearer's first film after Irving Thalberg's death: little expense was spared in making the "First Lady of MGM"'s return to the screen a royal one in every sense.

Technically superb, the film suffers from erratic pacing and a patchwork script. But the supporting cast alone almost compensates for these deficiencies: Robert Morley side-stepping caricature to make Louis XVI touchingly human; John Barrymore and Gladys George contributing brilliant, razor-sharp vignettes as Louis XV and Madame du Barry (indeed, the confrontation between Marie Antoinette and du Barry is one of the film's highlights); and Joseph Schildkraut redefining the term "oily" as the scheming Duke of Orleans. Only Tyrone Power (borrowed from 20th Century-Fox) comes off less well; this, perhaps is due more to an ill-conceived role in the script than to a lack of acting ability as such.

But it is, first and foremost, Shearer's film and she is superb. From the young, light-hearted Austrian Archduchess to the fun-loving, lightheaded Queen to the prematurely aged but proud and defiant widow on her way to the guillotine, Shearer is in full command, giving a splendid display of her artistry (including, in the prison scenes, an outstanding example of silent film technique): it is her finest mature dramatic performance.

Carps, quibbles, and differences of opinion? Yes, every film lover has them, if only out of love for the medium or a specific film. But after viewing a film such as "Marie Antoinette," it can with utmost conviction be stated, "They DON'T make them that way anymore."


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