Approved | | Biography, Drama, History
Louis Napoleon III takes advantage of the American Civil War to circumvent the Monroe Doctrine and expand his power by helping Emperor Maximillian Hapsburg to add Mexico to his empire. of Mexico.
Orry-Kelly designed costumes for Bette Davis which changed in tone as the film progressed: from white at the beginning, changing to gray in mid-film, and then to black at the end when she goes insane.
Emperor Louis Napoleon III:
Democracy! Government of the cattle, by the cattle, for the cattle!
When Napoleon lll is informed in a letter that Robert E. Lee has been defeated at Gettysburg, he responds by paraphrasing Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address by calling democracy as government for the people, by the people, etc. He couldn't have known Lincoln's rhetorical flourish because the actual speech wasn't given until mid November 1863.
In 1952, the film was re-released and several key scenes were removed, particularly sequences that contained dialogue that criticized countries which, in 1939 had been regarded as totalitarian, but which, by the early 1950s had become Cold War allies of the United States and could therefore no longer be criticized as imperialist adventurers. Germany and Italy, especially, former enemies in the 1940s, were now the cornerstone of NATO. The removal of these scenes obfuscated the narrative considerably, in particular, removing any clear reasons behind the execution of the Emperor Maximilian at the conclusion of the film. This revised print runs 106 minutes and is the version released on video and generally available today. The 1939 version is preserved on nitrate stock in the Warner Archive.