Madame DuBarry (1934)

Madame DuBarry (1934)

King Louis XV (Reginald Owen) of France is dissatisfied with ruling and bored with everyone treating him with kid gloves when Richelieu (Osgood Perkins) sets him up with a common woman with no moral character Madame DuBarry (Dolores del Rio). His is enthralled and the downfall of the French Aristocracy begins; his son’s (the Dauphin played by Maynard Holmes) marriage to Marie Antoinette (Anita Louise) is forthcoming. It’s hard to decide who is lovelier the racy Ms. del Rio or the outspoken Ms. Louise.

Ms. del Rio is plays the title character outrageously – realizing she’s got the nearly 60 year old King wrapped around her finger she asks to take a sleigh ride in the summer for which all the sugar in France must be used. The Duc Armand d’Aiguillon (Victor Jory) and the Duc de Choiseul (the recognizable Henry O’Neill) are dueling power brokers in the King’s court with d’Aiguillon winning by befriending DuBarry when she shows up at court in her nightgown. The King’s three daughters had conspired with the Duchess de Granmont (Verree Teasdale) & de Choiseul to make sure she wouldn’t receive a proper reception. When d’Aiguillon accepts and then “receives” her he becomes her confidant and manipulates her to achieve his political goals.

Some delicious dialogue in the film includes del Rio’s line “I’m just doing to France what they’re doing to me”;-) The Dauphin Louis XVI is portrayed as rather a dullard more interested in “mechanics” than lovemaking. Also noteworthy besides the fact that the film was directed by William Dieterle (The Life of Emile Zola (1938)) is the fact that the “perfect butler” (Jeeves & seafood chain spokesman) Arthur Treacher plays Andre Master of the Bedroom with his trademark raising of the eyebrows.

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