1938 “Marie Antoinette” Film on TV Tonight

marie antoinette film 1938

this must be at the beginning of her Petit Hameau phase…

Tonight–finally!–all of us on the Left Side of the Pond will be treated to a marie antoinette 1938viewing of the 1938 “Marie Antoinette” film. If you’re anything like your Blog Hostess, you saw that the film could only be purchased not rented and said “I can find something better to do with 19 bucks.” (The truth being, we can’t.)

For anyone with basic cable access in the US, it airs on the Turner Classic Movie channel (TCM) at 8 pm EST tonightahem! Yes, today is Tuesday! Like that disembodied voice has been reminding us since childhood, check your local listings for station and time.

Norma Sheerer as "Marie Antoinette" in 1938

plenty of high-flying hair confections in 1938 too.

Marie Antoinette Imprioned in the Tower

Marie Antoinette imprisioned in the Tower with Marie Therese and Louis Charles

The flick was based on Stephan Zweig’s biography “Marie Antoinette: Portrait of an Average Woman” and boasts an impressive roster of Hollywood legends. John Barrymore is aging playboy Louis XV; Tyrone Power is the dashing Swede Axel von Fersen; Robert Morley interprets Louis XVI and Norma Shearer (hopefully) shines in the title role.


From a cursory look at some photo stills (and one .gif–yeee dawgies!) there will be plenty of towering hair confections* and double-wide panniers. Unlike the Sofia Coppola version that has dominated the M@  Pop Culture Landscape upon which this entire blog was based, it appears this epic undertaking will also address what followed the events of 5 October 1789. (Let’s face it, if you don’t know the M@ bio, you have no idea what’s going on in the Coppola version once they get into the coach. Spoiler alert! They’re headed toward Paris.)

marie antoinette 1938

another fabulous dress

2005 marie antoinette film

Never thought this dress got enough screen time.

The dress designer–appropriately known only as ‘Adrian’–spent 1937 in Austria and France researching the designs. He even used a magnifying glass on the paintings to get the full view of the embroidery a fabrics. His re-creation of the costumes and hair was meticulously thorough and accurate for the time period. Norma Shearer’s gowns alone had a combined weight of over 1,768 lbs. Unsurprisingly, the wedding dress was the heaviest. Conversely, in Sofia’s version, historical accuracy wasn’t a priority. For example, though the French red-white-and-blue is prominent, it is never in the traditional hue, rather a play on them. Coppola wanted to express youth and rebellion with this color-play.



Anita Louise as the Princess de Lamballe

I’m a bit tipsy and is–no wait listen!–is my chaplet, um, askew now? Cos it feels askew…

Another fun bit of trivia, why not!? The actress who portrayed the Princess de Lamballe, Anita Louise (above), had already played Marie Antoinette in the 1934 movie, “Madame du Barry.”

Gladys George as Madame du Barry in 1938 "Marie Antoinette" film

Gladys George in 1938 “Marie Antoinette” film

Gladys George and her character Madame du Barry both died on the same day, December 8th, but of very different causes. Du Barry was decapitated during the Terror in 1793; George died of a brain-hemorrhage in 1954.

Eva Perón

in our opinon, one of the most famous ‘rubias de frasco’ in history.

Our favorite factoid/rumor addresses another famous (bottle) blonde: Eva Perón. The film was one of her favorites and supposedly the “Norma Shearer look” is what inspired Evita to “go blonde,” her signature color.

For more movie trivia, we refer you to IMDB.com! We hope you enjoy the show. Please turn off all cellphones. We’ll come back tomorrow to discuss!

*see! I got the ‘confections’ thing in again, Angie!

About ♔ la dauphiine ♔

Connecticut-based jewelry monger, history buff, Mets fan. On the hum-drum side, call me a lauded poet, novelist and ghost-writer. (That's right, I haunt prose.)
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12 Responses to 1938 “Marie Antoinette” Film on TV Tonight

  1. Lady says:

    What fascinating facts and pretty pictures (and gif) in this post! I hope you’ll enjoy the film and let us know what you thought of it. Maybe I’ll get a chance to watch it someday. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Angelyn says:

    Oh! To be mentioned in the same blog post as Norma Shearer! You’ve made my day! Facebooking and tweating! Notice all the exclamation points!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. racurac2 says:

    Thank you so much! I’ll watch it tonight. Talking about rubias de frasco and movies there is a wonderful spanish movie called “Cartas a Eva” : a story about Eva Peron, Franco and Carmen “la Collares” during the first trip of Eva to Europe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Doyenne says:

    Oh dear goodness! Those dresses! . . . .THOSE! DRESSES! I don’t own a television, so you must come back with your report. Let’s pray it matches all our sartorial hopes and dreams (as well as containing decent acting.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. aubrey says:

    I just can’t with Coppola’s treatment of history. No. I believe I’m in t he minority here, but there it is.

    But this…it looks simply luscious.

    ‘Adrian’ was a wonderful designer from the ’30’s – he designed the pretty frothy things that graced Jean Harlow, Katherine Hepburn – all the lovelies from between the wars.

    He designed the gowns for the Technicolor fashion show in ‘The Women’, ‘Madam Satan’ (highly recommended) and he designed Dorothy’s ruby slippers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Coppola’s version is FAR from accurate, I just kind of get the feeling that the flick brought “Marie Antoinette” into the pop-culture zeitgeist. (Did I actually spell that right? Wow.)
      It’s starting to sound like Adrian needs his own blog post highlighting his best outfits. I’ve never heard of ‘the Women’ or ‘Madam Satan.’ Simply must investigate!


  6. johnathanflake says:

    Norma Shearer was the best actress to play Marie-Antoinette for the 1938 blockbuster as Ute Lemper was for the iconic 1990 cinema historique L’Autrichienne (the title seems sketchy but the entire film is superb!) Nonetheless, there are many inaccuracies in Marie Antoinette (1938).

    1): It shows Antoine being chummy with the debauched, power-hungry Duc d’Orleans. In reality, they never were friends and they hated each other. He actively plotted to usurp the throne by secretively publishing radical anti-royalist and anti-Austrian propaganda against Queen Marie-Antoinette and King Louis XVI to stoke up mass hatred and incite violence against the Ancien Regime. He even paid for the bread shortages in Paris and elsewhere and led the women’s march on Versailles (his hopes were that that the immediate royal family either flee or be killed by the mob).

    2): Louis XVI is presented as a repressed, impotent fat dolt who was only interested in hunting and metalworking. In reality, he was an intelligent, upstanding human being who had many interests and tried, albeit not so successfully, to consummate his marriage with his wife (some contemporary sources like Comte Mercy say as early as 1773 or 1771). He was neither impotent nor did he have phimoses. He simply was an awkward teenager who was ill-advised on matters of conjugal love and was inculcated by his family to be very weary of Austrians. He was afraid that his bride would woo him like his grandfather Louis XV was wooed by de Pompadour, who was also named Antoinette and had reddish hair (it was she who drafted the Franco-Austrian alliance alongside foreign minister du Choiseul, but she died before its completion. Choiseul would preside over the affair and carry out the plans). Hence why he never let his wife mingle in politics until the French Revolution broke out.

    3): The film shows Marie-Antoinette having an intimate romance with Count von Fersen. While it is debatable that the two ever were lovers, there’s no solid evidence to prove that Fersen and the Queen were anything but friends. She certainly would not have risked being caught having it off with anyone other than her husband, even if she wanted to. “Sins that would be venial in any other girl were far more consequential in the future Queen of France.” If there ever was such a relationship, it was a platonic one rather than a physical one.

    All the best!


it's not just a love-affair with my own voice

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