1936 [FRENCH]

Drama / Romance

Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 77%
IMDb Rating 7.1 10 745

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN



Vladimir Sokoloff as Le chef de la police
Charles Boyer as L'archiduc Rodolphe

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MartinHafer 7 / 10

Very well made...if you like that sort of thing.

I have a confession to make. Of all the film genres, costume dramas are among my least favorite--so take my review with a grain of salt. Much of my dislike is because they seldom stick very close to the facts--which drives ex-history teachers (like myself) crazy. The other problem is that all too often the dialog seems stagy and stodgy. While MAYERLING definitely suffers some on both accounts, I must admit that despite my bias, it is a lovely film to look at---thanks to the production looking so elegant. The biggest reason, of course, is that the director (Anatole Litvak) did such a nice job with creating that elegance. Additionally, the leads, Charles Boyer and Danielle Darrieux were very good in the film. It looked very nice and probably would satisfy those looking for a tragic romance. As for me, after a while I got a bit bored--mostly because two incredibly wealthy people who suffer from ennui is hard for me to really care about in any way and because I knew the story was overly romanticized and events were changed to make for a better film. Plus, no matter what, by the end of the film I knew they'd both be dead....very, very dead.

By the way, I did some interesting reading about the Mayerling affair. It seems that recent forensics and examinations of the body of Maria cast strong doubt on the entire story. It seems that the Baroness was beaten to death and multiple shots were reportedly fired from another gun!! What all this exactly means is anyone's guess. There are many interpretations and reading up on this is actually a lot more interesting than a turgid old costumer any day, if you ask me.

Reviewed by bkoganbing 8 / 10

For the women he loved

When Mayerling came out in France, Great Britain was facing a similar situation that the former Hapsburg Empire was facing in 1889. Only their bachelor Crown Prince was about to become a king. But Edward VIII insisted it would not be without the women he loved. He found a way out that was less bloody than Crown Prince Rudolf Von Hapsburg did.

Indeed Emperor Franz Joseph lived on and on and on. He did not die until 1916 and the Empire would die with the end of World War I when so many new states were created in Europe. But when people do start getting old the succession in the dynasty becomes important.

Charles Boyer plays the dissolute and dissipated Crown Prince Rudolf who always gets a following whether he wants it or not in any monarchy. He's got more liberal views than his father played here by Jean Dax. What's not covered here is that Franz Joseph when he assumed the throne in 1848 was a rather serious minded youth of the age of 17, a total contrast to his kid. It made for continual conflict exacerbated by court politics.

The Crown Prince was more interested in letting the good times roll like there was no tomorrow. The Emperor has already arranged a match which the Prince has reluctantly agreed to as per his duty to the state. But then he meets Danielle Darrieux who plays Marie Vetsera who is of minor nobility not quite up to Hapsburg standards. After that he wants only to be with her. And she wants only him, not even the crown if he has to give it up.

Rudolf was a momma's boy in every sense of the word. The Empress Elizabeth married Franz Joseph and she was a wild child herself. Her story is covered in the Grace Moore/Franchot Tone movie The King Steps Out. Although she's at court here in this film, most of the years of her reign she lived apart from the Emperor partaking of the various resorts at places like Baden-Baden and Biarritz. Actress Gabrielle Dorziat plays Sissi and she sympathizes with her son, but not much she can do. Boyer and Dorziat have a very emotional scene covering that.

Darrieux all wide eyed and innocent does a wonderful job as the luckless Marie Vetsara. Boyer scores well as the tragic Rudolf who would just not settle down to his responsibilities.

With the British monarchy crisis in the news in America and everywhere else but the British Empire, Mayerling found an interested audience in 1936. Anatole Litvak directed it and he, Boyer, and Darrieux would be in America soon enough. Boyer was already here, but returned to France for this film. No doubt he was cast for box office reasons in the foreign markets, most especially the American one.

All of them delivered a fine film.

Reviewed by dbdumonteil 7 / 10

Mayerling revised and updated by the seventh art.

In my reviews of the 1968 Terence Young version,I've already told my thoughts on the historical facts.There's no need to get back on it:suffice to say the true story was not as romantic as sensitive people still thinks so today.

Anatole Litvak does not pass over in silence Rudolph's dissoluteness, as two orgy scenes testify.Besides,Charles Boyer is a much better archduke than Omar Shariff.Ditto Danielle Darrieux who was about 20 (whereas Catherine Deneuve was nearing 25 when she played Mary),thus a more credible baroness Vetsera .Both versions,it's important to notice ,are from Claude Anet's NOVEL.It's not a historian's work and it should be not looked upon so.

However,Litvak is a better director than Terence Young.With a much smaller budget,and of course without the 1968 technical aids ,he works wonders :the tiny church where Rudolph meets Mary in half-light creates a mystical and heathen atmosphere at once.The night at the opera house is dazzling.To conclude the scene of the ball at the German embassy ,the artist uses a stunning tracking out which leaves the swirling twirling dancers,then stops on a glass door adorned with the Habsburg emblem.Rudolphe ,firing at his reflection in a mirror is an adequate metaphor.

A minor flaw:Gabrielle Dorziat is completely miscast as Sissi ,Rudolph's mother:she was one of the most beautiful women of her time (we can see the magnificent Winterhalter portraits at the beginning of the movie).At fifty,when the Mayerling tragedy occurred,her beauty was still incomparable.She had nothing to do with the aging dowager we see on the screen (in Young 's version,it's Ava Gardner!)

And hats off to Danielle Darrieux who ,sixty-four years after "Mayerling" ,recently triumphed in "8 femmes",a blockbuster in France.Any advance?

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