(out of 5)

Elegant film about doomed lovers of the late 19th century, set off by director Anatole Litvak’s keen eye focused on gorgeous gowns and plush drawing rooms.  Charles Boyer and Danielle Darrieux star as the real life Archduke Rudolph of Austria and Baroness Marie Vetsera, who had everything going for their romance except one thing: the Archduke was already trapped in an arranged marriage with another woman. Instead of being split apart by the bureaucracy surrounding them (the Archduke tries for an annulment of his marriage and fails), the two heroes go for more serious measures to get some attention. A Cinemascope remake with Omar Sharif and Catherine Deneuve in 1969 failed miserably to capture the same starry-eyed beauty of this little gem. Litvak’s version neither tries too hard to be modern that it ends up dated, nor does it fall back too hard on old-fashioned narrative conventions; it just tells a very sad story with a little stardust, and should be appreciated just for that. Boyer found himself in Hollywood soon after making an international hit with this one.

France, 1936

Directed by Anatole Litvak

Screenplay by Irma von Cube, dialogue by Joseph Kessel, based on the novel by Claude Anet

Cinematography by Jean Isnard, Armand Thirard

New York Film Critics Award
Best Foreign Language Film

National Board Of Review Award
Top Foreign Films