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: Perhaps the great loves come with tears.

King Louis XVI: I am not going to run! What do you say, brother?
Comte de Provence: I say run and you'll loose your crown!
Comte d'Artois: And I say stay and you'll loose your head!

Marie: Shall I never see you again?
Count Axel de Fersen: If you need me I shall come to you.
Marie: (through tears) I shall always need you.
Count Axel de Fersen: And if I should ask you, "Was it well done?", you'll tell me, "It was well done."

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Facts about

This was reported to have been the first time a film crew was allowed to film on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles.
From its initial inception up until right before the cameras started to roll, the film was designed to be shot in Technicolor. All of the sets and costumes were designed with color in mind. MGM went as far as to send the fox cape that Norma Shearer wears (to see Henry Stephenson on the night she becomes Queen) to New York to be specially dyed to match the blue of her eyes. Fearing that the addition of Technicolor would swell the already mammoth (for the time) $1.8-million budget, the production went before black-and-white cameras instead.
Gladys George (who plays du Barry) and the real Jeanne B├ęcu, comtesse du Barry, share the same death day. George died from a cerebral hemorrhage on Dec. 8, 1954, while the comtesse was a victim of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution and was guillotined on Dec. 8, 1793 - less than two months after Marie Antionette's own execution.
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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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Also released in 1938

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