Conquest (1937)

112 or 115 mins | Drama | 22 October 1937

Director:

Clarence Brown

Producer:

Bernard H. Hyman

Cinematographer:

Karl Freund

Editor:

Tom Held

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The working titles of the film were Madame Walewska and Marie Walewska . An onscreen prologue reads: "This is a story of an historic love, the imaginative detail supplied by the dramatist has not violated the spirit of this immortal romance." According to a feature article in Stage in Oct 1937, the film cost in excess of $2,000,000, and Monterey, CA was used as a location subsitute for the island of Elba and Napoleon's retreat from Moscow was filmed partially at the Los Angeles Ice and Cold Storage Company. The article also notes that Greta Garbo first brought the Wacla Gasiorowski book to the attention of M-G-M executive producer Irving Thalberg in 1934. A news item in HR in Nov 1935, noted that M-G-M had just bought the rights to the book, and its English language dramatization by Helen Jerome, as a vehicle for Garbo and Charles Boyer. A 9 Feb 1937 HR news item noted that Robert E. Sherwood, Zoë Akins and David Boehm had been engaged to work on the script for the film in addition to two of the writers credited onscreen, Salka Viertel and S. N. Behrman. Early HR production charts include Akins and Talbot Jennings as additional writers on the film. The extent of Sherwood's, Boehm's, Akins' and Jennings' contributions to the released film has not been determined. A HR production chart includes Shepperd Strudwick in the cast, however, he was not in the viewed print and is not mentioned in other contemporary sources. A modern source notes that Czech director Gustav ... More Less

The working titles of the film were Madame Walewska and Marie Walewska . An onscreen prologue reads: "This is a story of an historic love, the imaginative detail supplied by the dramatist has not violated the spirit of this immortal romance." According to a feature article in Stage in Oct 1937, the film cost in excess of $2,000,000, and Monterey, CA was used as a location subsitute for the island of Elba and Napoleon's retreat from Moscow was filmed partially at the Los Angeles Ice and Cold Storage Company. The article also notes that Greta Garbo first brought the Wacla Gasiorowski book to the attention of M-G-M executive producer Irving Thalberg in 1934. A news item in HR in Nov 1935, noted that M-G-M had just bought the rights to the book, and its English language dramatization by Helen Jerome, as a vehicle for Garbo and Charles Boyer. A 9 Feb 1937 HR news item noted that Robert E. Sherwood, Zoë Akins and David Boehm had been engaged to work on the script for the film in addition to two of the writers credited onscreen, Salka Viertel and S. N. Behrman. Early HR production charts include Akins and Talbot Jennings as additional writers on the film. The extent of Sherwood's, Boehm's, Akins' and Jennings' contributions to the released film has not been determined. A HR production chart includes Shepperd Strudwick in the cast, however, he was not in the viewed print and is not mentioned in other contemporary sources. A modern source notes that Czech director Gustav Machaty worked as a fill-in director during Clarence Brown's brief illness, which may have been Machaty's first work in the as a director in the United States. His first credited film was Within the Law in 1939 (see below).
       According to information in the Howard Dietz Collection at the AMPAS Library, Conquest cost $2,732,000 to produce and grossed $2,141,000, resulting in a net loss for M-G-M of $1,397,000. Comparison of these figures with budgets and grosses of other M-G-M films indicates that the film lost more money than any other picture made by the studio from the 1920s through the 1940s.
       Var review notes that Alexandre Walewska, the son of Marie and Napoleon was a diplomat of some distinction during the mid-nineteenth century and achieved more fame than either of the former emperor's other two sons. It also notes that by historical record Marie and Alexandre were among the few faithful followers who stayed with Napoleon until the end. A 1966 Polish film entitled Marie Walewska was based on the same source as the 1937 M-G-M version. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Dec 37
p. 492.
Daily Variety
23 Oct 37
p. 3.
Film Daily
26 Oct 37
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Nov 35
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Feb 37
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Mar 37
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 37
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
23 Oct 37
p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald
11 Sep 37
p. 34.
Motion Picture Herald
30 Oct 37
p. 47.
New York Times
5 Nov 37
p. 19.
Stage
1 Oct 37
pp. 50-52
Variety
27 Oct 37
p. 18.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Edward James Flanagan
Adia Kuznetzoff
Edwin J. Brady
Olaf Hytton
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Gowns
Napoleon jewels through courtesy of
MUSIC
Mus score
Instructor in Polish lyrics for chorus
SOUND
Rec dir
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Bus mgr
Still photog
STAND INS
Dance double for Miss Garbo
Dance double for Mr. Boyer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Pani Walewska by Waclaw Gasiorowski and the play of the same name by Helen Jerome (New York, 17 Feb 1933).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Marie Walewska
Madame Walewska
Release Date:
22 October 1937
Production Date:
3 March--18 July 1937
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Copyright Date:
26 October 1937
Copyright Number:
LP7547
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
112 or 115
Length(in feet):
10,183
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
3624
SYNOPSIS

In Eastern Poland, in January 1807, the home of the Count Walewska and his wife Marie is overrun by pilaging Russian soldiers who make fun of the young countess and her aging husband. Soon after they leave, Marie's brother, Paul Lachinski, arrives and enthralls Marie with tales of the French Emperor Napoleon, whose armies have just arrived in Poland. Later, Marie briefly encounters the emporor near a church and is as impressed with him as he is with her. Two months later, Marie and her husband are formally introduced to Napoleon at a ball at the Poniatowski Palace in Warsaw, and she is pleased that he does not reveal their earlier brief meeting, but is uneasy about his obvious attraction to her. When he sends notes to her proclaiming his admiration and suggesting that her responsiveness would benefit her country, she is upset and confides in her husband. He wants to take her away, but when some of the Polish leaders beg Marie to give in to Napoleon to save their country, she decides to go to him. When she returns to the count, he leaves her. Soon Napoleon and his personal staff take quarters in Marie's home. Although she is antagonistic toward him at first, her sympathy for his inner loneliness soon softens her feelings and she returns his love. They become more and more happily in love, but her happiness is marred by her brother's adverse reaction to their relationship and by Napoleon's long absences. Two years later, while Napoleon seeks a divorce from his wife, the count obtains an annulment of his marriage, and Marie secretly awaits the ... +


In Eastern Poland, in January 1807, the home of the Count Walewska and his wife Marie is overrun by pilaging Russian soldiers who make fun of the young countess and her aging husband. Soon after they leave, Marie's brother, Paul Lachinski, arrives and enthralls Marie with tales of the French Emperor Napoleon, whose armies have just arrived in Poland. Later, Marie briefly encounters the emporor near a church and is as impressed with him as he is with her. Two months later, Marie and her husband are formally introduced to Napoleon at a ball at the Poniatowski Palace in Warsaw, and she is pleased that he does not reveal their earlier brief meeting, but is uneasy about his obvious attraction to her. When he sends notes to her proclaiming his admiration and suggesting that her responsiveness would benefit her country, she is upset and confides in her husband. He wants to take her away, but when some of the Polish leaders beg Marie to give in to Napoleon to save their country, she decides to go to him. When she returns to the count, he leaves her. Soon Napoleon and his personal staff take quarters in Marie's home. Although she is antagonistic toward him at first, her sympathy for his inner loneliness soon softens her feelings and she returns his love. They become more and more happily in love, but her happiness is marred by her brother's adverse reaction to their relationship and by Napoleon's long absences. Two years later, while Napoleon seeks a divorce from his wife, the count obtains an annulment of his marriage, and Marie secretly awaits the birth of her child. She is summoned to Vienna to join Napoleon, but when she arrives, she learns that Napoleon is planning to marry the Princess Marie Louise of Austria in the hopes of establishing a strong dynasty. Though she is shattered, Marie accepts Napoleon's marriage and leaves him to have her child alone. During the course of the next few years, Napoleon suffers many defeats. His army is forced to retreat from their position in Moscow and, despite a last attempt to recapture his former empire, he eventually loses everything at the Battle of Waterloo. In his final exile on the island of Elba, he sends for Marie. She and her son Alexandre go to him and stay with him until he dies. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.