Desiree

Overview

Director Henry Koster and writer Daniel Taradash speculate mightily in this historical tableau charting the rise and fall of Napoleon Marlon Brando, all due to his unrequited love for noblewoman Desiree Jean Simmons. The film takes a chronological view of Napoleon's reign and posits Napoleon's love of a woman he wanted to marry as a young general but abandoned for the sake of his career. Both Napoleon and Desiree go their separate ways -- he to become Emperor of France and loveless husband to Josephine Merle ...
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Overview

Director Henry Koster and writer Daniel Taradash speculate mightily in this historical tableau charting the rise and fall of Napoleon Marlon Brando, all due to his unrequited love for noblewoman Desiree Jean Simmons. The film takes a chronological view of Napoleon's reign and posits Napoleon's love of a woman he wanted to marry as a young general but abandoned for the sake of his career. Both Napoleon and Desiree go their separate ways -- he to become Emperor of France and loveless husband to Josephine Merle Oberon and she to become Sweden's disinterested Queen. Napoleon and Desiree meet up again in a whimsical confrontation in which Desiree urges the Little Corporal to surrender and go to St. Helena. The film is based on a novel by Annemarie Selinko that, like the film, takes wild liberties with the truth.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Desiree is a visually beautiful film, a genuine feast for the eyes, even if it leaves the heart and mind feeling somewhat less than sated. 20th Century Fox clearly lavished a great deal of money and attention on the physical production (although not to the extent of allowing a great deal of location shooting), and the stunning costumes and sumptuously decorated sets clearly show it. Less attention was paid to Daniel Taradash's screenplay, which was already operating under the constraints of the Annemarie Selinko book upon which it was based and which bore absolutely no relation to historical truth. Unfortunately, both book and film replaced truth with standard issue soap opera, resulting in an unconvincing and uninvolving story with trite situations and clich├ęd dialogue. Henry Koster, who is capable of bringing a certain amount of charm to films such as The Bishop's Wife, is operating mostly on automatic pilot here; the result is a film that is placid and professional but has little personality of its own. Jean Simmons looks lovely and convincingly portrays her characters rags-to-riches story. Marlon Brando is uneven, bringing flash and excitement to some sequences but coming across as uninvolved in others. Desiree's debits do it damage, but its assets are strong enough to make it worth viewing, at least once.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/1/1998
  • UPC: 086162152733
  • Original Release: 1954
  • Rating:

  • Source: 20th Century Fox
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Marlon Brando Napoleon Bonaparte
Jean Simmons Desiree Clary
Merle Oberon Empress Josephine
Michael Rennie Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte
Cameron Mitchell Joseph Bonaparte
Elizabeth Sellars Julie, Desiree's Sister
Charlotte Austin Paulette
Cathleen Nesbitt Mme. Bonaparte
Evelyn Varden Marie
Isobel Elsom Madame Clary
Alan Napier Despereaux
Nicholas Koster Oscar, Desiree's Son
Richard Deacon Etienne
Edith Evanson Queen Hedwig
Carolyn Jones Mme. Tallien
Sam Gilman Fouche
Larry Craine Louis Bonaparte
Judy Lester Caroline Bonaparte
Louis Borell Baron Morner
Peter Bourne Count Brahe
Dorothy Neumann Queen Sofia
David Leonard Barras
Lester Matthews Caulaincourt
Gene Roth Von Essen
Colin Kenny Gen. Becker
Leonard George Pope Pius VII
Richard Garrick Count Reynaud
Violet Rensing Marie Louise
Sven Hugo Borg Aide
George Brand Servant
Harry Carter Coachman
Jack George Piano Teacher
Cameron A. Grant Montel
John Hoyt Talleyrand
Marina Koshetz Singer
Kay Kuter Lacky
Jack Mather Sergeant
Richard Van Cleemput Lucien Bonaparte
Bert Stevens Man at Chaumiers
Technical Credits
Henry Koster Director
Julian Blaustein Producer
Leland Fuller Art Director
Rene Hubert Costumes/Costume Designer
Milton Krasner Cinematographer
Charles LeMaire Costumes/Costume Designer
Alfred Newman Score Composer
Alex North Score Composer
Stephen Papich Choreography
William H. Reynolds Editor
Daniel Taradash Screenwriter
Lyle Wheeler Art Director
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