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

Marie: Do you think one-hundred years hence some Swedish gentleman wandering in Paris might smile over a relic of Marie Antoinette? A miniature perhaps, or a ring? This very ring, for instance.
Marie: It's centuries old. It has an inscription on it --- "Everything leads me to thee."
[She places the ring in his hand]
Marie: Can you see it? Lying on a velvet cushion in its little glass case?
Count Axel de Fersen: I don't know... you might make a present of it, perhaps, to some man who had loved you and it would be worn on his hand for as long as he lived and buried with him when he died because he loved you reverently and as was fitting from a respectable distance but with all his heart for all this life.

Count Axel de Fersen: I must let you go. Goodbye.
Marie: Good night. Or, if you wish good morning. I shall never say goodbye.

Count Axel de Fersen: When I'm gone you'll be glad that I didn't stand in the path of your destiny making you less than you were meant to be.
Marie: And that other kingdom? The love, the youth, the happiness we might have had... what of that?
Count Axel de Fersen: We shall dream of it more tenderly because we didn't destroy it.

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Facts about

MGM's recreation of the ballroom at Versailles was twice as large as the original.
The role of Marie Antoinette was reportedly Norma Shearer's favorite of her roles.
William Randolph Hearst campaigned heavily for Marion Davies (Hearst's mistress) to star as Marie Antoinette. Davies didn't get the role and ended her contract at MGM and went to Warner Bros. along with Hearst.
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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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