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Desiree [1954 film] (1954)

de Henry Koster

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Désirée (1954)

Marlon Brando – Napoleon Bonaparte
Jean Simmons – Désirée Clery

Michael Rennie – Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte
Merle Oberon – Empress Josephine
Cameron Mitchell – Joseph Bonaparte
Elizabeth Sellars – Julie
John Hoyt – Talleyrand
Charlotte Austin – Paulette Bonaparte
Cathleen Nesbitt – Mme. Bonaparte
Evelyn Varden – Marie
Isobel Elsom – Mme. Clary

Screenplay by Daniel Taradash, based on the novel (1951) by Annemarie Selinko
Directed by Henry Koster

Colour. 110 min.


Marlon Brando as Napoleon is an irresistible proposition. So is Jean Simmons as his leading lady, as anybody familiar with Guys and Dolls (1955) would agree. Both are wonderful here, making this really stupid melodrama far more enjoyable than it has a right to be. Suave, witty, arrogant and wise (“Life is never simple, but I agree being in love helps to make it less complicated.”), Brando’s Napoleon is a masterpiece of subtle camp, no more historical than Bernard Shaw’s “Man of Destiny”, but no less entertaining either. Jean Simmons, besides being unspeakably lovely at the age of 25, is perfect as the feisty Désirée who works her way up (or down) from the French silk trade to the Swedish crown. Quite a journey! The ruggedly handsome Michael Rennie provides excellent support as the French soldier who becomes a King of Sweden. Not a bad journey, either! John Hoyt as Talleyrand is an inspired casting choice. Pity we see so little of him! Sets and costumes are sumptuous, to say the least, and the colours are stylishly vivid in the best 1950s fashion. I have seen the movie described as a “stinker” (untrue) which Brando was forced to make by Zanuck and didn’t take seriously (I can well believe that). But it is still a highly entertaining period piece, never mind Henry Koster’s idiotic direction. Napoleon buffs had better stay away. If you want history, read a textbook. If you want a lavish historical melodrama with the Napoleonic Wars as a background, you might try this one. If you are in love with Marlon and Jean, as the present writer obviously is, this movie is pretty much indispensable. ( )
1 vota Waldstein | Nov 1, 2019 |
irst class costume drama that begins in Marseilles in 1794 with Désirée Clary (Jean Simmons) meeting the young, ambitious general Napoleon Bonaparte (Marlon Brando). The story follows the intertwining relationship between the pair as Napoleon rises to become Emperor of France. Along the way Désirée finds herself betrayed when Napoleon marries courtesan Josephine (Merle Oberon) before she herself marries General Jean-Baptiste Berandotte (Michael Rennie), an ally of Napoleon who goes on to become King of Sweden and an enemy of the increasingly despotic Emperor. This is a gorgeous film with director Henry Koster playing out the ever-changing relationships against a widescreen tapestry made beautiful by the sumptuous use of Technicolor. The pace is stately and affected and the costumes and sets are beautifully rendered. Marlon Brando is riveting playing Napoleon with a honeyed English accent and a cool, calculating manner. He plays the final five minutes of the film with his back to the camera but still manages to be absolutely riveting. Jean Simmons is charming and self-confident; her delicate beauty never compromising her sparky personality. Michael Rennie is also good as Bernadotte giving a measured performance that subtly and incrementally builds an antipathy for Napoleon. It goes without saying that "Désirée" is a highly fictionalised account of the various relationships and as such needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt. As a beautifully constructed technical piece of work, enhanced by marvellous acting performances it is, however, hard to beat. ( )
1 vota calum-iain | Sep 2, 2018 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Henry Kosterautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Brando, Marlonautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Oberon, Merleautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Simmons, Jeanautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
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