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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)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Features Brian Aherne's only Oscar nominated performance. 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

Emperor Maximilian von Hapsburg: [as he is being led to his execution by firing squad] "Distribute this money among your men and tell them to aim for my heart."
See more »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

Featured in Five Came Back: The Mission Begins (2017) 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

 
Two Films Into One Is A Bad Fit
11 June 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Juarez is a film that might possibly have been better served if the concept of a mini-series had been available back in 1939. Certainly his story in its entirety with Maximilian and Carlotta as just one part of it would be a mini-series.

Benito Juarez who rose from being an illiterate Zapotec Indian from Oaxaca province in Mexico has developed into the Mexican statesman with the biggest popular appeal in American culture. Note how in the film, he is juxtaposed with Abraham Lincoln. Both men started from very humble background and rose to lead their respective nations at the same time, in times of great crises for their countries.

Paul Muni makes an impassive and stoic Juarez. It certainly is atypical of the rest of his historical characters be it Louis Pasteur, Pierre Radisson, or Emile Zola where he is quite eloquent. It's so different than what you normally see from Muni.

Juarez's story shares the screen with that of his counterpart the Emperor Maximilian. The real Maximilian was not as naive as Brian Aherne would have us believe. He knew very well his power was there while the French army was there. Yet in his own way with limited options he tried to govern as best he could. Aherne was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Thomas Mitchell for Stagecoach.

Hollywood usually can't resist a mad act and Bette Davis might have been nominated herself had she not been already nominated for the much better Dark Victory. It really did happen that way, the high strung Carlotta just snapped when she returned to France to get help for her beleaguered husband. She lived in her private mad world for over 60 years, dying in the mid twenties of the next century.

Claude Rains registers well as emperor Louis Napoleon and with this film played both Bonaparte emperors of France. He had played the first Napoleon in Hearts Divided. Marshal Achille Bazaine played well by Donald Crisp was withdrawn with his troops because France was very concerned, rightly so, about a growing threat from a uniting Germany and couldn't waste time with imperialist ventures. I do love the fact that the French seem so concerned about the Monroe Doctrine which was nothing more than an expression of U.S. policy, always has and always will be. It had no force of law behind it, but with the Civil War over and the Union Army at the point of Appomattox being the largest army in the world at that time, that had more to do with Napoleon deciding that the western hemisphere wasn't worth it.

An interesting side note to that retrenchment policy, Louis Napoleon also withdrew French troops from Rome and the Papal States for the same reason at the same time because of threats to the home land. It removed the last block to a uniting Italy as well.

If I have a favorite among the supporting cast it is Joseph Calleia who plays Juarez's slippery Vice President who tries a palace coup d'etat and falls very short.

The one jarring note in the cast is John Garfield who sounds more like he's from the Lower East Side of New York than Mexican as Juarez supporter and future dictator of Mexico, Porfirio Diaz.

Juarez as a film is overly ambitious, it tries to tell too much in the running time allotted. A film about Juarez and a film strictly from the Maximilian/Carlotta point of view would have been far better.


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