Based upon the 1932 biography of the ill-fated Queen of France by the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, Marie Antoinette is a 1938 American historical drama film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed by W. S. Van Dyke and starred Norma Shearer as Marie Antoinette. It had its Los Angeles premiere at the legendary Carthay Circle Theatre, where the landscaping was specially decorated for the event.
The film was the last project of Irving Thalberg who died in 1936 while it was in the planning stage. His widow Norma Shearer remained committed to the project even while her enthusiasm for her film career in general was waning following his death.
With a budget over two million dollars, it was one of the more expensive films of the 1930s, but also one of the bigger successes.
These beautiful photos captured portrait of Norma Shearer during the filming Marie Antoinette in 1938.
Edith Norma Shearer (August 10, 1902 – June 12, 1983) was a Canadian-American actress who was active on film from 1919 through 1942. Shearer often played spunky, sexually liberated ingénues. She appeared in adaptations of Noël Coward, Eugene O’Neill, and William Shakespeare, and was the first five-time Academy Award acting nominee, winning Best Actress for The Divorcee (1930).
Reviewing Shearer’s work, Mick LaSalle called her “the exemplar of sophisticated 1930s womanhood … exploring love and sex with an honesty that would be considered frank by modern standards”. He described her as a feminist pioneer, “the first American film actress to make it chic and acceptable to be single and not a virgin on screen”.
She won a beauty contest at age fourteen. In 1920 her mother, Edith Shearer, took Norma and her sister Athole Shearer (Mrs. Howard Hawks) to New York. Ziegfeld rejected her for his “Follies,” but she got work as an extra in several movies. She spent much money on eye doctor’s services trying to correct her cross-eyed stare caused by a muscle weakness. Irving Thalberg had seen her early acting efforts and, when he joined Louis B. Mayer in 1923, gave her a five year contract. He thought she should retire after their marriage, but she wanted bigger parts. In 1927, she insisted on firing the director Viktor Tourjansky because he was unsure of her cross-eyed stare. Her first talkie was in The Trial of Mary Dugan (1929); four movies later, she won an Oscar in The Divorcee (1930). She intentionally cut down film exposure during the 1930s, relying on major roles in Thalberg’s prestige projects: The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) and Romeo and Juliet (1936) (her fifth Oscar nomination). Thalberg died of a second heart attack in September, 1936, at age 37. Norma wanted to retire, but MGM more-or-less forced her into a six-picture contract. David O. Selznick offered her the part of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939), but public objection to her cross-eyed stare killed the deal. She starred in The Women (1939), turned down the starring role in Mrs. Miniver (1942), and retired in 1942. Later that year she married Sun Valley ski instructor Martin Arrouge, eleven years younger than she (he waived community property rights). From then on, she shunned the limelight; she was in very poor health the last decade of her life. (IMDB)