In occupied France during the Franco-Prussian War, a young French laundress shares a coach ride with several of her condescending social superiors. But when a Prussian officer holds the ... See full summary »
Lally is a rich girl whose father writes books and plays Polo. After 23 years of marriage, he decides to divorce his wife, and marry Mrs. Chevers. This sours Lally on all men, while on ... See full summary »
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
In the lavish ball sequence at Versailles that appears to take place in the famous Hall of Mirrors, King Louis XV (and later, Mme du Pompadour) arrives by descending a huge flight of stairs. Yet the real Hall of Mirrors has no stairs, at either end. See more »
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.
Oh, dear, what can it be? What have I done? She can't say much to me anyway. I'm a grown woman.
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"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 »
Norma's zenith and with one exception the end of her reign
Made directly after Irving Thalberg's death but arranged by him beforehand this was Norma's final solo showcase. A mixture of the loss of her behind the scenes champion, poor script judgment and her vanity which caused her to turn down possible career savers Mrs. Miniver and Old Acquaintance lead to her days as a top star coming to an end. She still had a few decent pictures in her future, most notably The Women, but this is the last of her big star vehicles and her final big success as the main star of a film.
But this is certainly a grand way to end her time at the top. Norma does well in the lead her occasional lapses into grandiosity are well suited to a queen and don't get in the way of her characterization like they often did in several of her other films and her smaller moments are well played. Although this really should have been in color, the sets, wigs and costumes are almost impossibly lavish and are dazzling even in B&W. It's an enjoyable if questionably accurate historical account of Marie's rise and fall.
Aside from Shearer Robert Morley gives a gem of a performance as the not terribly bright Louis XVI, never making him seem a simpleton just a gentle man unequal to the role thrust upon him by birth. There are a few other good performances from Gladys George as the cheap but flashily dressed Madame du Barry and Joseph Schildkraut as the queen's venal cousin. Tyrone Power is impossibly handsome but his part is really window dressing so he doesn't make much of an impression.
Fine through they all are the film would be nothing without Norma. The title role requires someone whose well seasoned star power couldn't be overpowered by the sumptuous trappings and this is Norma's show straight down the line. Perhaps the one she was most suited to it's certainly one of her strongest performances. The film itself is a trifle overlong but for those who stick with it worthwhile entertainment.
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