Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
France, 1936. Nero Films. Screenplay by Irma von Cube, dialogue by Joseph Kessel, based on the novel by Claude Anet. Cinematography by Jean Isnard, Armand Thirard. Produced by Seymour Nebenzal. Music by Arthur Honegger. Production Design by Serge Pimenoff. Costume Design by Georges Annenkov. Film Editing by Henri Rust.
Elegant film about doomed lovers of the late 19th century, set against director Anatole Litvak’s keen eye for 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, merely telling a very sad story with a little stardust. Boyer found himself in Hollywood soon after making an international hit with this one.