Marie Antoinette Overview:

Marie Antoinette (1938) was a Drama - Drama Film directed by W.S. Van Dyke and Julien Duvivier and produced by Hunt Stromberg and Irving Thalberg.

The film was based on the biography Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman written by Stefan Zweig 1932.


A long, lavish biopic chronicling the life of the French queen (Shearer) who wanted only a simple life on a farm, but was finally consumed by the French Revolution. Central to the film's story, adapted from the best-selling biography by Stefan Zweig, are the intrigues at Versailles and the scandal of the diamond necklace. Power, on loan from Fox (in exchange for Spencer Tracy's appearance in Stanley and Livingstone), plays Marie's Swedish lover Ferson and Morley is excellent as weak Louis XVI. A big-budget showcase for Shearer's return after a two-year absence while she grieved the loss of husband and MGM production chief Irving Thalberg. While Sidney Franklin spent years preparing to direct the film, studio boss Mayer forced him to stand back and allow no-nonsense Van Dyke to take over.

(Source: available at Amazon AMC Classic Movie Companion).


Academy Awards 1938 --- Ceremony Number 11 (source: AMPAS)

Best Supporting ActorRobert MorleyNominated
Best ActressNorma ShearerNominated
Best Art DirectionCedric GibbonsNominated
Best Music - ScoringHerbert StothartNominated

BlogHub Articles:

Marie Antoinette (1938)

By Amanda Garrett on Jun 3, 2016 From Old Hollywood Films

Today, I'm reviewing the 1938 biopic of French Queen Marie Antoinette, starring Norma Shearer. This article is part of The Royalty on Film Blogathon hosted by The Flapper Dame. Eighteenth century French Queen Marie Antoinette is still a pop culture icon for her over-the-top fashions and her ... Read full article

Marie Antoinette (1938)

By Beatrice on Dec 2, 2013 From Flickers in Time

Marie Antoinette Directed by W.S. Van Dyke Written by Claudine West, Donald Ogden Stewart, and Ernest Vajda based in part on the book by Stefan Zweig 1938/USA Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer First viewing I am not big on 2 1/2 hour-plus costume dramas … especially if Norma Shearer is going to play a tee... Read full article

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Quotes from

Duke d'Orléans: Paris is waiting for you... lights, music, dancing, the opera. A new world is waiting for you! Conquer Paris and you'll conquer Madame Du Barry.

Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Why, this is barbarous! Must the queen's child be born in public?
Count de Mercey: Dr. Franklin, a French monarch belongs to the public. He must be born, he must live and he must die in public.

Marie: I think I've known you would come. You promised to, you know?
Count Axel de Fersen: If you needed me, I said.
Marie: Yes, you said that.
Count Axel de Fersen: And, I said I would ask you: "Was it well done?"
Marie: It was well done. My husband has needed me. I am thankful to not have failed him.
Count Axel de Fersen: I understand.
Marie: I even love him. But the love I have for him takes nothing away from my friend. Of all there was between us the night you went away nothing has changed. For me, nothing has changed or ever will. Forgive me for telling you this without asking you if you had the right to hear it.
Count Axel de Fersen: I have the right. We knew each other for only a few hours and have been parted for long years, but the memory of you has always, will always, stand in the path of any living woman. Goodnight, madame.

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Facts about

According to TCM's website, in early December 1937, Peter Lorre was announced as the first choice for the role, but by the time filming began, Robert Morley had been awarded the part.
MGM's recreation of the ballroom at Versailles was twice as large as the original.
Marie Antoinette's famously-high coiffure is shown adorned with a miniature diamond-studded bird cage complete with a canary that tweeted when she pulled a hidden string. This adornment was in fact worn by the Grand Duchess of Russia at a 1782 party that Marie Antoinette hosted at Trianon. The Duchess's bird not only chirped, but it's wings also flapped with the tug of a thin gold chain.
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Best Actress Oscar 1938

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Also directed by W.S. Van Dyke

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Also produced by Hunt Stromberg

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