Queen Christina (1934)

96-97 or 103 mins | Romance | 9 February 1934

Director:

Rouben Mamoulian

Producer:

Walter Wanger

Cinematographer:

William Daniels

Editor:

Blanche Sewell

Production Designer:

Alexander Toluboff

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

As depicted in the film and confirmed by modern biographical sources, from 1632, when she was crowned queen of Sweden at the age of six, to 1644, Christina ruled under the regency of five crown officers, headed by Axel Oxenstierna. When she obtained her majority, Christina began to oppose Oxenstierna, especially in regard to Sweden's participation in the Thirty Years' War. Although she was responsible for engineering a peace settlement with Germany, she failed to overcome the financial problems brought on by years of war and was plagued by attempted revolts and dissension in the Swedish Diet. As depicted in the film, Christina, who was known as the "Minerva of the North," was an avid reader and supporter of the arts. Descartes taught her philosophy. In 1654, Christina abdicated to her cousin Charles. Although she cited poor health as her reason for stepping down, her real motivation was her secret conversion to Roman Catholicism, which had been outlawed in Sweden, and her aversion to marriage. Immediately after abdicating, Christina left Sweden and years later attempted to gain the thrones of Naples and Poland. She never married.
       The working title of the film was Christina . News items in MPD , HR and FD give the following information about the film's production: In Aug 1932, Clarence Brown was announced as the film's director, and Bess Meredyth was announced as adaptor. While Brown never worked as director on the production, it is not known if Meredyth actually contributed to the final script. A Jan 1933 FD news item stated that M-G-M was going to send a production unit to ... More Less

As depicted in the film and confirmed by modern biographical sources, from 1632, when she was crowned queen of Sweden at the age of six, to 1644, Christina ruled under the regency of five crown officers, headed by Axel Oxenstierna. When she obtained her majority, Christina began to oppose Oxenstierna, especially in regard to Sweden's participation in the Thirty Years' War. Although she was responsible for engineering a peace settlement with Germany, she failed to overcome the financial problems brought on by years of war and was plagued by attempted revolts and dissension in the Swedish Diet. As depicted in the film, Christina, who was known as the "Minerva of the North," was an avid reader and supporter of the arts. Descartes taught her philosophy. In 1654, Christina abdicated to her cousin Charles. Although she cited poor health as her reason for stepping down, her real motivation was her secret conversion to Roman Catholicism, which had been outlawed in Sweden, and her aversion to marriage. Immediately after abdicating, Christina left Sweden and years later attempted to gain the thrones of Naples and Poland. She never married.
       The working title of the film was Christina . News items in MPD , HR and FD give the following information about the film's production: In Aug 1932, Clarence Brown was announced as the film's director, and Bess Meredyth was announced as adaptor. While Brown never worked as director on the production, it is not known if Meredyth actually contributed to the final script. A Jan 1933 FD news item stated that M-G-M was going to send a production unit to Sweden to make the film. No other indications that any scenes were made on location have been found, however. In the spring of 1933, MPD reported that Ernst Lubitsch would not be directing the picture. Around the same time, a large number of actors, including Bruce Cabot, were tested for the role of "Antonio." After months of delay, Laurence Olivier was selected for the lead, and in Jul 1933, the actor sailed from Britain to play the part. (Modern sources state that Franchot Tone and Nils Asther, who had co-starred with Garbo in several silent pictures, were also considered for the role.) However, in mid-Aug 1933, John Gilbert was awarded the part over Olivier. M-G-M reportedly compensated Olivier with a generous cash settlement. Although C. Henry Gordon was announced as a "featured" cast member, the actor did not appear in the final film. Edward Cooper is mentioned in a HR news item as a cast member, and the following actors are listed in HR production charts: Edward Gargan, Tiny Sandford and Muriel Evans. Lawrence Grant is described in news items as playing the only "English" role in the film, but this role has not been identified. A FD news item indicates that the final scenes for the production were not completed until mid-Dec 1933, but HR production charts and news items list the end of production as late Oct 1933. Queen Christina was the first and only sound film that Garbo made with Gilbert, her most famous silent film co-star. Its release came eighteen months after her previous starring vehicle, As You Desire Me .
       Modern sources add the following information about the production: Just before Garbo was to sail to Stockholm on a vacation, writer Salka Viertel gave her a biography of Christina and suggested that she consider the queen as her next film role. Garbo liked the idea and, with Viertel, met with M-G-M's Irving Thalberg. Viertel and a collaborator prepared a treatment and sent it to Garbo in Sweden for approval. Excited by the story, Garbo notified Thalberg that she would re-sign with his studio if he agreed to make Queen Christina as her next starring picture. Thalberg consented, and Garbo returned to Hollywood loaded with research material about the queen. Some modern sources claim that Garbo requested Mamoulian as director, while others say that he was assigned by the studio. Although Garbo herself approved the casting of Olivier, whose screen tests she had viewed, she had difficulty performing love scenes with him, causing producer Walter Wanger to call on Gilbert. Gilbert, whose contract with M-G-M recently had expired and whose career was foundering, was given an impromptu screen test and, after Garbo applied pressure on the reluctant Louis B. Mayer, was cast. In a filmography in the biographical file on Edgar G. Ulmer at the AMPAS Library, he is listed as production designer for this film.
       According to files in the MPPA/PCA Collection in the AMPAS Library, on 8 Jan 1934, Joseph I. Breen, director of Studio Relations of the AMPP, objected strenuously to the film's bedroom scene and suggested many deletions. Breen felt that "sex immorality" is presented in the story as "attractive and beautiful and made to appear 'right and permissible,'" a definite violation of the Code. In addition, Breen and several state censors objected to the line, "This is how the Lord must have felt when he first beheld the finished world," which is spoken by Garbo in the bedroom scene. A review board consisting of Carl Laemmle, Jr. of Universal, Jesse Lasky of Paramount and B. B. Kahane of RKO screened the picture, however, and deemed it acceptable.
       Tickets for the film's New York run cost two dollars. In spite of generally favorable reviews, the film did not do well at the box office in America and failed to revive Gilbert's career. Modern sources complete the above cast list as follows: Edward Norris ( Count Jacob ) and Edward Gargan ( Drinker at inn ), and add Wade Boteler ( Rabble-rouser ). In a modern interview, Mamoulian recalled that to make Garbo laugh in one scene, he instructed Gilbert, Akim Tamiroff and two other actors to make silly faces at her off-screen. As hoped, she laughed spontaneously on camera, reportedly for the first time in her career. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
23 Dec 33
p. 33.
Daily Variety
11-Jan-34
---
Film Daily
28 Jan 33
p. 2.
Film Daily
27 Sep 33
p. 4.
Film Daily
29 Aug 33
p. 4.
Film Daily
15 Dec 33
p. 2.
Film Daily
28 Dec 33
p. 18.
HF
2 Sep 33
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 32
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 32
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 33
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 33
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 33
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Aug 33
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 33
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 33
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jan 35
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Dec 37
sec II, p. 119.
Motion Picture Daily
2 May 33
p. 2.
Motion Picture Daily
30 Dec 33
p. 29.
Motion Picture Herald
30 Dec 33
p. 29.
New York Times
27 Dec 33
p. 23.
Variety
2 Jan 34
p. 13.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Rouben Mamoulian Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Orig story
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Cost supplied by
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
Mixer
PRODUCTION MISC
Sword fight staging by
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Christina
Release Date:
9 February 1934
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 26 December 1933
Production Date:
7 August--25 October 1933
possible addl scenes completed mid December 1933
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Copyright Date:
23 January 1934
Copyright Number:
LP4439
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
96-97 or 103
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In 1632, after her father, King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, dies on the battlefield, six-year-old Christina is crowned ruler. Reared by her father as a boy, Christina accepts the crown as the "king" of Sweden and then vows to her court, which is headed by Chancellor Oxenstierna, that Sweden will fight until it wins the war. Many years later, however, the now-grown Christina, who regularly dresses in men's clothing, confers with her council about the still-raging war and declares that, for the good of the country, peace must be negotiated. Christina then argues with Oxenstierna about marrying her Swedish-born cousin, Prince Palatine Charles Gustavus, a popular war hero. Determined that she will not marry a man she does not love, Christina rejects Oxenstierna's demands that she do her royal duty and wed the much older Charles. Instead, the book- and art-loving Christina flirts with Count Magnus, her handsome and ambitious treasury secretary. When even Magnus begins to tax her patience, however, Christina flees from her Stockholm palace to hunt with her devoted servant Aage. Then while riding in a remote forest, Christina comes across a coach filled with Spaniards, which has become stuck in a snow-covered ditch. Because she is dressed in heavy male clothing, Christina is not recognized and is instead treated as a male servant by the coach's prominent passenger, diplomatic envoy Don Antonio de la Prada. Later, Christina and Aage seek shelter in the only inn in the area and once again encounter Antonio and his party. Embarrassed to discover that Christina is a "gentleman" of means, Antonio apologizes and engages his social "equal" in conversation. ... +


In 1632, after her father, King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, dies on the battlefield, six-year-old Christina is crowned ruler. Reared by her father as a boy, Christina accepts the crown as the "king" of Sweden and then vows to her court, which is headed by Chancellor Oxenstierna, that Sweden will fight until it wins the war. Many years later, however, the now-grown Christina, who regularly dresses in men's clothing, confers with her council about the still-raging war and declares that, for the good of the country, peace must be negotiated. Christina then argues with Oxenstierna about marrying her Swedish-born cousin, Prince Palatine Charles Gustavus, a popular war hero. Determined that she will not marry a man she does not love, Christina rejects Oxenstierna's demands that she do her royal duty and wed the much older Charles. Instead, the book- and art-loving Christina flirts with Count Magnus, her handsome and ambitious treasury secretary. When even Magnus begins to tax her patience, however, Christina flees from her Stockholm palace to hunt with her devoted servant Aage. Then while riding in a remote forest, Christina comes across a coach filled with Spaniards, which has become stuck in a snow-covered ditch. Because she is dressed in heavy male clothing, Christina is not recognized and is instead treated as a male servant by the coach's prominent passenger, diplomatic envoy Don Antonio de la Prada. Later, Christina and Aage seek shelter in the only inn in the area and once again encounter Antonio and his party. Embarrassed to discover that Christina is a "gentleman" of means, Antonio apologizes and engages his social "equal" in conversation. Christina impresses Antonio with her lively, intelligent talk, then insists that he take her room, the best and last in the inn. After some polite argument, the couple decide to share the room and head upstairs to bed. While Antonio casually undresses, Christina hesitates, made shy by Antonio's direct glances, but finally reveals her sex by removing her jacket. Although at first stunned, Antonio soon revels in the unmasking and takes Christina in his arms. For the next several days, Christina and Antonio, who is still unaware of her royal identity, make love in their inn room and pledge their lasting devotion to each other. Finally remembering his diplomatic mission, Antonio leaves the inn but arranges to rendezvous with Christina in Stockholm. Back at the palace, Christina is confronted by Magnus, who is angry and suspicious about his queen's absence. Christina, however, is concerned only with her reunion with Antonio and dresses up in her most feminine gown to greet him at court. When Antonio is presented to Christina, he again is stunned but struggles to maintain his composure. Later, Antonio meets privately with Christina and, after chastizing her for playing with his affections, presents her with his king's portrait and proposal of marriage. Christina dismisses the official proposal, however, and ignores her royal duties to spend time with Antonio. Enraged with jealousy, Magnus hires two men to spread rumors throughout Stockholm about the queen's scandalous conduct, and one night Christina is met outside the palace by an indignant mob. After calming the angry crowd, Christina confronts Magnus with his subterfuge, but he threatens to use his political power to have Antonio killed. For his protection, Christina orders Antonio back to Spain, unaware that the Spaniard has challenged Magnus to a duel. Christina then confers with Oxenstierna about her future and, after calling together her court, announces that she is abdicating the throne to her cousin Charles. While Christina bids a sad farewell to her heartbroken court, Antonio and Magnus duel at sword point in a border forest. The liberated Christina finally reaches Antonio's ship but finds him dying from wounds inflicted by Magnus. After Antonio dies in her arms, Christina bravely announces to Aage that they are still sailing to Spain to see first her lover's cliffside home and then the world. +

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

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