Tonight–finally!–all of us on the Left Side of the Pond will be treated to a viewing 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 tonight…ahem! Yes, today is Tuesday! Like that disembodied voice has been reminding us since childhood, check your local listings for station and time.
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.)
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.
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 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.
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!