L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, August 20, 2017

For the love of Poland - portraits of Garbo for Conquest/Marie Walewska, by Clarence Sinclair Bull, 1937

The only film separating Garbo's greatest successes - Camille and Ninotchka - and only two films before the end of her career - after the latter and the last, the disastrous Two-Faced Woman - Conquest, aka Marie Walewska, is one of her least remembered films. Co-starring Charles Boyer as Napoléon - he was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance - it tells the story of a Polish countess coerced into an affair with the French Emperor - both were married to older partners - in the belief that it would save her country from the latest "scourge of Europe". But then they fall in love. Her husband annuls their marriage, Napoléon divorces Joséphine but, for dynastic expediency, he marries Marie-Louise of Austria instead of his beautiful mistress. In spite of his newlywed status, he is quite happy to continue the affair with Countess Walewska, but the lady finds the situation untenable and leaves him, not revealing that she is now carrying his child. (The basic historical facts are not too far off, though the child was born during their affair, so the Emperor certainly was aware of his son. And the Countess didn't divorce her husband until after the end of her affair with Napoléon; the boy had been claimed as the aged Count's own progeny - which, unsurprisingly, fooled no one. Oh, and Napoléon ended the affair, not Countess Walewska.) The film, very expensive to make, was a dud at the box office and lost over a million dollars. Though she was still one of MGM's most prestigious properties, domestic receipts for Garbo's films had long been on the decline. So it was not too much of a surprise that the studio now engineered her "transformation" - triumphant if unsustainable - as the incandescent Ninotchka: "Garbo Laughs!"


Examples of the promotional material created for the film.

Fun to find this; I lived in Lompoc, briefly, as a child. Third and fourth grade. At a date considerably later than the debut of this film, thank you!

1 comment:

  1. What a great group of photos. I did not know all of this, so thank you for enlightening me and bringing a much-needed happy distraction.