7.4/10
2,469
69 user 11 critic

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

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Prime Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Suez (1938)
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Ferdinand de Lesseps, disappointed in love, is sent as a junior diplomat to the Isthmus of Suez, and realizes it's just the place for a canal.

Director: Allan Dwan
Stars: Tyrone Power, Loretta Young, Annabella
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Young love is poisoned by a generations long feud between two noble families.

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, John Barrymore
Drama | Music | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

This send-up of ragtime song and dance begins in 1915 San Francisco when society boy Roger Grant decides to pursue popular rather than serious music.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Don Ameche
Marie-Antoinette (TV Movie 2006)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Directors: Francis Leclerc, Yves Simoneau
Stars: Karine Vanasse, Olivier Aubin, Marie-Eve Beaulieu
A Free Soul (1931)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An alcoholic lawyer who successfully defended a notorious gambler on a murder charge objects when his free-spirited daughter becomes romantically involved with him.

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, Lionel Barrymore
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

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 »

Director: E. Mason Hopper
Stars: Norma Shearer, Belle Bennett, Lewis Stone
The Citadel (1938)
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Andrew Manson, a young, enthusiastic doctor takes his first job in a Welsh mining town, and begins to wonder at the persistent cough many of the miners have. When his attempts to prove its ... See full summary »

Director: King Vidor
Stars: Robert Donat, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Richardson
Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Living in India with her crude husband, a British aristocrat is reunited with an old flame at a party, though she truly has her sights set on a handsome doctor.

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: Myrna Loy, Tyrone Power, George Brent
Day-Time Wife (1939)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

When a young wife discovers her husband of two years is involved with his beautiful secretary, she applies for a job as secretary to a business rival.

Director: Gregory Ratoff
Stars: Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Warren William
Certificate: Passed Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Elizabeth Barrett's tyrannical father has forbidden any of his family to marry. Nevertheless, Elizabeth falls in love with the poet Robert Browning.

Director: Sidney Franklin
Stars: Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Charles Laughton
Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A singer becomes a star in the Ziegfeld Follies, but her marriage to a con man has a bad effect on her career.

Director: Gregory Ratoff
Stars: Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Al Jolson
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An unscrupulous agent for the Borgias suffers a change of heart when asked to betray a noble count and his much younger, very beautiful wife.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Tyrone Power, Orson Welles, Wanda Hendrix
Edit

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
Edit

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 »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 August 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

María Antonieta See more »

Edit

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Irving Thalberg originally planned for Charles Laughton to play the role of Louis XVI with wife Elsa Lanchester as Princess de Lamballe. Norma Shearer's pregnancy was the first of many postponements, and when the film was finally made, the Laughtons were no longer associated with it. See more »

Goofs

The stately minuet heard at the lavish ball sequence hosted by the Duc D'Orleans at Versailles, is from Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, which was composed in 1787. A few moments after the Minuet ends, King Louis XV arrives. He died in 1774 and therefore, this music could not possibly have been played at such an event as it had yet to be written. 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 Lady Oscar (1979) See more »

Soundtracks

Dance of the Furies
(uncredited)
from "Orpheus and Euridice" (1762)
Written by Christoph Willibald Gluck
[Heard as background score during the masked ball sequence.]
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Top Ten Reasons why "Marie Antoinette" is quite possibly the best movie ever made in Hollywood
23 March 2002 | by benoit-3See all my reviews

10. The script

Uncredited as a scriptwriter is novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald. His love scenes are extremely elaborate and exquisitely structured. They also introduce innovations that have since become clichés and the hallmark of 'women pictures' everywhere.

9. The actors

Barrymore is unforgettable as the regally cranky Louis XV. Morley gives one of his best interpretations. Schildkraut plays the best two-faced villain of his entire body of work. As for Power... remember the anecdote about the reporter asking romance-writer Barbara Cartland (Lady Di's stepmother) how she could possibly have written so many romance novels before she was even married and while she was still a virgin? Her answer was: 'Oh! We didn't have sex in those days. We had Tyrone Power.'

8. The director

Van Dyke was an expert at handling large crowds and acts of God. His directing style was a compromise between time-efficiency and giving the stars leeway as long as they respected the general style of the piece. This 'honour system' seems to have encouraged the actors to do their homework and present a credible, coherent performance every time. He also got an assist here from uncredited French genius Julien Duvivier.

7. Artistic direction

What can you say about a period film that tackled the challenge of recreating Versailles in the XVIIIth century on the MGM back lot? The production values are staggering. The Gallery of Mirrors is actually longer, higher and wider than the original. The costumes tread a fine line between historical accuracy (covered shoulders and revealed cleavage) and the requirements of the movie code (exposed shoulders were tolerated but bosoms had to be covered) but still manage to convey the era and the fairy-tale quality of Marie's court. The costumes were also specially constructed to shine, glitter and shimmer on black and white film.

6. Historical accuracy

The film's script is based (in part) on Stefan Zweig's groundbreaking biography of the Queen, "Marie Antoinette, Portrait of an Ordinary Woman", which tried to create the first accurate, adult, factual but Freudian-inspired narrative of the Queen's life by using documents and correspondence that had long been overlooked or suppressed. The book was the first to reveal Louis XVI's mechanical sexual problems, which prevented his consummating the marriage during its first seven years (until a slight surgical intervention) and explained in turn the Queen's extravagant spendthrift personality, in Freudian terms, as extreme sexual frustration. This story actually makes it to the screen in a large degree. Compare this to recent biopics like "A Beautiful Mind", whose scriptwriters conveniently 'forget' essential but non-mainstream plot elements like the fact that John Nash's paranoia may have been caused or amplified by the McCarthy era persecution of homosexuals. Some historical events have been telescoped into one another in order to accommodate the general American public's limited understanding of French history and the Orléans character was used to maintain tension by representing the turncoat part of the nobility which exploited MA for their own various agendas.

5. The music

Herbert Stothart may not be a household word but he did win an Oscar for his original score to "The Wizard of Oz", based, of course in part on Harold Arlen's melodies. Besides giving Miss Gulch/the Wicked Witch her immortal theme, he is also one half of the composing team that produced the operetta "Rose Marie". Stothart shines in two respects: the approximate recreation of XVIIIth century dance music in the court scenes, emphasizing the bored grandeur of the proceedings, and the psychological music that accompanies everything from exciting chase scenes to the love scenes between Shearer and Tyrone. Note especially the use of the harpsichord in a rupture scene between Orléans and MA and the use of the viola d'amour in the garden love scene.

4. The cinematography

MA is in 'glorious black and white', but especially in the escape to Varennes sequence which has the most credible - and suspenseful - 'day for night' sequence ever filmed. The marriage scene may have inspired Queen Elizabeth II's coronation. Also notable are the matte paintings, the overwhelming use of cranes to move in on particular characters in a crowd scene and the chiaroscuro of the last meeting with Fersen.

3. Detail and scope

Every scene has something special added to it in characterization, movement, rhythm, lighting, art direction, choreography (and not just in the dance scenes). The costumes could have starred in a picture by themselves.

2. The lost art of story-telling

This film was planned with intelligence and skill and was built around the principle stated by Selznick when filming GWTW: 'The secret of adapting a book to the screen is to give the impression that you are adapting a book to the screen.' Which means that many literary devices are used to give the story many interesting arcs and recurring themes. The story is well balanced in terms of spectacular action, recreation of important historical events (giving the impression of the passage of time) and intimate scenes. It is truly 'the intimate epic' that Mankiewicz's 'Cleopatra' was supposed to be. Need I add I am really dreading the Sofia Coppola version...

1. Norma Shearer

Norma Shearer is an unjustly forgotten star of the first magnitude. MA is permanent testament to her uncanny abilities. In this film she portrays the main character from the age of sixteen to her death as a prematurely aged and debilitated woman of 38, all with perfect verisimilitude, thanks to her magnificent vocal instrument and stage presence. As a fairy-queen, she makes Cate Blanchett as Galadriel (in LOTR) look like Carol Burnett's charwoman. Her virtuosity as the fated widowed Queen is all the more poignant when one realizes that at the time she was Thalberg's widow in her last husband-approved venture and that the Hollywood suits were rapidly closing in on her.


38 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 69 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows to Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse all our free movies and TV series



Recently Viewed