Oscar Movies: Marie Antoinette (1938)–Norma Shearer as the Queen

M.G.M.’s opulent costume drama Marie Antoinette stars Norma Shearer in the title role, as the Austrian princess who is married off to Louis Auguste (Robert Morley), the Dauphin of France.

Marie, by becoming the Dauphine, finds herself plopped smack in the middle of French palace intrigue between Louis’s father King Louis XV (John Barrymore) and his scheming cousin, the Duke of Orleans (Joseph Schildkraut).

Louis is unable to consummate his marriage, and so Marie compensates with parties, gambling her fortune away. In a casino, she meets the handsome Count Axel de Fersen (Tyrone Power) and they have an affair.

When Louis XV dies and Louis becomes King Louis XVI, Fersen takes his leave; he cannot carry on an affair with the Queen of France.

Marie vows to be a great queen and remain loyal to her king, but the Duke of Orleans is plotting against Louis XVI with some revolutionary radicals.

The monarchy is overthrown, and Louis and Marie are thrown into prison, awaiting execution. But when word gets back to Fersen, he travels back to France in an attempt to rescue Marie.

Production values are lavish, especially cinematography by William Daniels and costumes by Adrian.

Robert Morley received an Oscar nod for his first screen role, which originally was intended for Charles Laughton

Oscar Nominations: 4

Actress: Norma Shearer

Supporting Actor: Robert Morley

Interior decoration: Cedric Gibbons

Original Score: Herbert Stothart

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context

The winner of the Best Actress Oscar was Bette Davis for Jezebel.

The Supporting Actor Oscar went to Walter Brennan for Kentucky.

The Adventures of Robin Hood won the Art Direction (Carl J. Weyl) and the Score (Erich Wolfgang Korngold) Oscars

Running time: 160 minutes.

Directed by W.S. Van Dyke.

Written by Claudine West, Donald Ogden Stewart, Ernest Wajda, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, based on the book by Stefan Zweig

Released: August 26, 1938

DVD: October 10, 2006

MGM