THE LIFE… THE WOMEN… THE CONQUESTS OF NAPOLEON!
Marseille, 1794; ambitious general Napoleon Bonaparte (Marlon Brando) meets Désirée Clary (Jean Simmons) and they fall in love; over the years they will both become royalty and marry others, but won’t ever forget the romance. A lavish Hollywood spectacle that takes us through remarkable historical events, such as Napoleon’s creation of an empire and Désirée’s unexpected turn as the new Queen of Sweden. This is far from a reliable history lesson, but we do get opulent costumes and a majestic music score. The two leads are fine, but the film comes across as somewhat flat in spite of all the dazzling ingredients.
1954-U.S. 110 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Henry Koster. Novel: Annemarie Selinko. Music: Alex North. Costume Design: René Hubert, Charles Le Maire. Cast: Marlon Brando (Napoleon Bonaparte), Jean Simmons (Désirée Clary), Merle Oberon (Joséphine de Beauharnais), Michael Rennie (Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte), Cameron Mitchell, Elizabeth Sellars.
Trivia: Montgomery Clift and Louis Jourdan were reportedly offered the role of Napoleon. The story was also more or less told in the French film Mlle. Desiree (1942).