Conquest

Conquest

Director: Clarence Brown

Cast: Clarence Brown, Greta Garbo, Charles Boyer, Reginald Owen

     
 

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Conquest was released in England as Marie Waleska, the name of the real-life historical personage portrayed by Greta Garbo. The film begins in 1807, when Marie, a Polish countess, is dispatched by her country to meet with Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (Charles Boyer). Marie has been encouraged to press for Polish independence by whatever means possible--and

Overview

Conquest was released in England as Marie Waleska, the name of the real-life historical personage portrayed by Greta Garbo. The film begins in 1807, when Marie, a Polish countess, is dispatched by her country to meet with Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (Charles Boyer). Marie has been encouraged to press for Polish independence by whatever means possible--and though no one comes out and says as much, it is understood that she will offer herself sexually to the promiscuous Napoleon. She dutifully becomes Bonaparte's mistress, bears his child, and--almost as an afterthought--falls in love with him. Thanks to the political chicanery of Talleyrand (Reginald Owen), Napoleon is obliged to marry Hapsburg princess Marie Louise, and Marie is cast aside, her usefulness at an end. Only after Napoleon has been exiled to Elba in 1815 is he reunited with Marie and their son (Scotty Beckett). Though it stands up pretty well today, Conquest was a flop in 1937, and the beginning of the end of Garbo's screen career.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
It's rare that the male lead in a Greta Garbo film is able to hold his own against the screen legend, but that is the case with Conquest; indeed, many would say that Charles Boyer not only held his own but stole the film right out from under her. That is perhaps overstating the case, especially when one considers the size of Garbo's role and her character's importance to the script compared to Boyer's, but it is true that Boyer at the time received the lion's share of the attention from critics. Conquest has a reputation as a white elephant, a box office failure (due to its for-the-time extreme cost) that marked the decline of Garbo as a star. But when viewed objectively, Conquest is a moderately entertaining, if often quite slow, costume drama. Clarence Brown's direction is quite tired, and this has an unfortunate affect on the film as a whole. But it is beautifully mounted, with lavish sets and costumes and keen attention to detail that will impress many viewers. The screenplay is so much nonsense, with at times appalling dialogue, but it does given Garbo and Boyer the chance to strut their stuff, and neither disappoints in the least. Despite its flaws, it offers the rare chemistry of Garbo and a male lead that matches her in intensity, and is worth seeing for this alone.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/15/2010
UPC:
0883316256879
Original Release:
1937
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Archives
Presentation:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Time:
1:52:00
Sales rank:
47,353

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Greta Garbo Marie Walewska
Charles Boyer Napoleon
Reginald Owen Talleyrand
Alan Marshal Capt. D'Ornano
Henry Stephenson Count Walewska
Leif Erickson Paul Lachinski
May Whitty Laetitia Bonaparte
Maria Ouspenskaya Countess Pelagia
George Houston Marshal Duroc
Noble Johnson Roustan
Henry Kolker Senator Wybitcki
Ivan Lebedeff Cossack Captain
Lois Meredith Countess Potocka
Oscar Apfel Count Potocka
George Davis Grenadier
Carlos de Valdez Turkish Ambassador
Roland Varno Staos
Robert Warwick Capt. Laroux
Jean Fenwick Maria Louisa
Rosina Galli Bianca
Vladimir Sokoloff Dying Soldier
Scotty Beckett Alexandre
Betty Blythe Princess Mirska
Claude Gillingwater Stephan
Henry C. Gordon Prince Poniatowski
Ralf Harolde Lejeune
George Zucco Senator Malachowski

Technical Credits
Clarence Brown Director
S.N. Behrmann Screenwriter
Karl W. Freund Cinematographer
Cedric Gibbons Production Designer
Tom Held Editor
Samuel Hoffenstein Screenwriter
William Horning Production Designer
Bernard Hyman Producer
Herbert Stothart Score Composer
Salka Viertel Screenwriter

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