16 thoughts on “TBT: Désirée (1954)

  1. How can somebody not see Désirée? I saw it, as it was a favourite of a friend (male), who had an interest in the period. It’s remarkable that even the blue uniforms are in some pictures in different shades of blue (what especially for officers and Generals just doesn’t make any sense).
    The Performance of the actors is much better then in Sacha Guitry’s epic “Napoléon” (1955). However there was a cast of many famous French stars too.

  2. I saw this movie ages and ages ago – amazed at the history.
    I guess it’s time for a rewatch while sewing or knitting lace.
    Great piece.

  3. What is with Merle Oberon’s changing skin tones? I saw the movie and preferred the book.

    1. Apparently at one point she spent too much time under a sun lamp and burned one side of her face, and so could only be filmed from the other side for many of her scenes! So maybe it’s related to that?

  4. I’ve always loved Desiree. Artistic license was taken with the story, but compared to most, it’s fairly factual. My favorite factoids:

    Desiree hated the cold of Sweden (both court-wise and temperature-wise) and spent quite a bit of time in France.

    Josephine retired to Malmaison and became an acclaimed rosarian (a great collector). Most of her collection is still there today.

    Finally, many of the jewels in Sweden and Norway come from both the familial lines of Josephine, Napoleon, and Louis XIV. Lots of royal intermarriage in Europe going way, way back (not just Q Victoria’s family.

    Desiree’s letters are fascinating.

    1. As I recall Desiree’s son married a granddaughter of Josephine who brought in the jewelry. The Swedish Bernadottes have a very fine collection of royal jewels. IMO one of the most tasteful in Europe. And some very lovely Princesses to wear them.

  5. Desiree Clary is why my oldest daughter’s middle name is Desiree!! I loved the book when I was a teenager and liked the movie pretty well, too. I love Jean Simmons.

  6. I’ve never seen the movie, but I loved the book. My mom “made” me read it when I was in middle or high school. The ruby tiara Crown Princess Mary of Denmark wears is supposed to be made from the hair ornaments Desiree wore to Napoleon’s coronation. I think one of the Swedish button tiaras is made from buttons used on her husband’s uniform

  7. The shoulder ruffs were a real thing but they were of lace and SUBTLE!!! Look at Josephine’s coronation portrait, you can just see them. They’re not in your face like the costume dresses.
    Desiree Clary’s life is pretty improbable, from silk merchant’s daughter to Queen of Sweden and matriarch of a dynasty is one heck of a career path.
    Picking Bernadette to succeed their childless and senescent king wasn’t all that random. An alliance with Napoleon’s France would have seemed wise at the time and as Desiree was Napoleon’s sister in law her husband was a peripheral member of the Imperial family as well as a Marshal of France. He made an excellent King of Sweden and of course his descendants still reign there.

  8. I saw Desiree at the impressionable age of 14 some 65 years ago. Loved the spectacle but didn’t care for Marlon Brando even then. The costumes are beautiful, whether authentic or not.

    1. You forgive a lot if it’s pretty. This is a very pretty movie. Personally I love Brando’s Napoleon but he’s not everybody’s dish.

  9. The amazing story of Desirée and the Royal house of Bernadotte is very much part of Swedish history. On a side note re the movie: it’s fun what they thought Sweden looked like. The palaces are more or less intact in all their French 18th c glory, so they could just have opened a book…

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