Désirée Clary met Napoleon when he was an obscure general. There was evidently a romance but, in the outcome, Désirée's sister married Napoleon's brother, while she went on to marry the prickly General Bernadotte, ending up years later as Queen of Sweden. The Hollywood melodrama Désirée, directed by Henry Koster in 1954 with Brando and Jean Simmons, makes an amusing comparison with this characteristically clever, ironic account. Guitry's prosaic camerawork contrasts with his audacious approach to storytelling: the movie's credits, 50 minutes in, are especially cheeky. Barrault, as the young Napoleon, looks so much like Kenneth Williams, you half expect to spot Sid James slouching around the Tuileries.
Cast and crew