BrianRxm Coins in Movies 68/122
Marie Antoinette (1938)
French King Louis XVI identified by his gold coin portrait
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The 1938 MGM film "Marie Antoinette" is loosely based on the life of 18th century French queen.
Canadian actress Norma Shearer plays Marie Antoinette and Robert Morley plays her husband,
the Dauphin (crown prince) of France and later King Louis XVI.
They both, of course, are executed during the French Revolution.
 
In one scene, the king, queen, and their two children are fleeing France for Austria in a coach.
The are stopped by revolutionary soldiers and are charged 20 francs. Louis gives a man a coin
and they are allowed to pass. Later, two officials examine the gold coin and notice that the man in
the coach looks like the portrait on the coin. They send some soldiers ahead to intercept the coach
and capture the family.
 
Marie Antoinette was born in Austria in 1755, married in 1770 at the age of fourteen, and became
queen of France in 1774 at the death of her father-in-law, King Louis XV.
Most of the events in the film take place after the start of the French Revolution in 1789.
 
A prop coin with a portrait of actor Robert Morley is shown and it was specially made for the film.
Marie Antoinette
1. Title
 
Marie Antoinette is the daughter of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.
 
Marie Antoinette
2. Empress Maria Theresa and Marie Antoinette
 
Empress Maria Theresa is the lady of the famous coin, the Austrian Maria Theresa thaler.
 
Maria Theresa thaler
3. Maria Theresa thaler
 
Silver, 41mm, 28.07gm
 
The Maria Theresa thaler, a popular silver dollar sized Austrian coin, was first struck in 1780,
the year of her death and has been struck off and on all over the world by various mints since then.
 
The Empress tells Marie that she is going to marry the Dauphin, the son of the King of France.
 
In France, the young Marie meets King Louis XV of France and several others, and she wonders which
man is the Dauphin.
 
Marie Antoinette
4. Who's the groom?
 
Unfortunately for Marie, Prince Louis is physically unatractive, shy, and not interested in marriage.
She goes through with the wedding and afterward, alone with him, he has something to tell her.
 
Marie Antoinette
5. By the way
 
Louis tells Marie that he can not produce children.
She begins to live extravagantly and having affairs.
 
Count Axel de Fersen is a handsome Swedish officer who approaches her at a party.
 
Marie Antoinette
6. Count Axel declares his love
 
He declares that he has loved her since he was a child and they begin an affair.
 
Mme. (mademmoiselle) du Barry is the mistress of the king, a power at court, and doesn't like Marie at all.
 
Du Barry sends Marie a minature empty baby carriage with a nasty note about Marie's lack of children.
 
Marie Antoinette
7. Telling off Mme. du Barry
 
At another party, Marie suggests to du Barry that she knows the streets of Paris, implying that
she was a streetwalker or prostitute.
 
Du Barry complains to the king who plans to send Marie back to Austria.
 
The king dies, and Louis is now King Louis XVI.
 
He also feels up to his family responsibilities and Marie has a daughter, followed by a son and heir.
The births are open to the nobility, including one famous American visitor.
 
Marie Antoinette
8. Benjamin Franklin
 
Benjamin asks about the open birth procedure and is told that it is to ensure the correct heir.
 
Marie has been spending money and is tricked into signing for a very expensive diamond necklace.
 
The French people are tired of their poverty and of the nobility and begin the revolution.
Marie is disliked because of her wasteful spending and her foreign birth.
 
The revolution spreads all over the country and a mob invades the palace.
 
Marie Antoinette
9. The mob invades the palace
 
Count Axel returns and arranges for Russian passports and a coach for Marie's family to leave
France and head to Austria.
 
Revolutionary soldiers stop the coach in a small town.
 
Marie Antoinette
10. Revolutionary soldiers stop coach
 
As the passengers look rich, the soldiers demand a 20 franc tax.
 
Marie Antoinette
11. The king pays 20 francs
 
The king pays them with a coin and the coach is allowed to proceed.
Later two officials examine their coins and notice something about the last one.
 
Marie Antoinette
12. Examining the coin
 
The official states that it is a gold coin of Louis XVI.
 
Marie Antoinette
13. The coin with the king's portrait
Marie Antoinette
14. Robert Morley as the king
 
The prop coin was specially made for the film with a portrait of actor Robert Morley.
 
An actual coin of Louis XVI looks somewhat different.
 
A Louis d'or from 1786
 
Marie Antoinette
15. France Louis d'or Louis XVI 1786
 
Gold, 24mm, 7.64gm
 
The Louis d'or was the general gold coin of the period, it's name meant Louis of Gold.
 
The official examines the coin again and sees a resemblance to the recent coach passenger.
 
Marie Antoinette
16. That face looks familiar
 
The official sends soldiers to intercept the coach.
 
Marie Antoinette
17. The king identified
 
The king is identified by a priest who used to work in the palace.
 
The family is taken to Paris and put in a prison.
 
A revolutionary court sentences the king to death by beheading, to be done by the famous guillotine.
The king spends his last night with his family.
 
Marie Antoinette
18. The last night
 
Later, soldiers take Marie's son from her and later a court sentences her to death.
Count Axel is able to visit Marie for one last time and again declares his love for her.
 
Marie Antoinette
19. One last meeting
 
Marie is taken to a town square for the execution while Count Axel watches from a roof.
 
Marie Antoinette
20. The place of execution
 
Marie is brought in plain clothes to the site and she remembers when her mother told her
who she was going to marry.
 
Marie Antoinette
21. Marie remembers "I will be Queen of France"
 
Count Axel wears a ring which Marie had given him earlier.
 
Marie Antoinette
22. Count Axel's ring
 
The ring reads "Everything leads me to thee"
Notes:
 
Cast:
Norma Shearer as Marie Antoinette
Tyrone Power as Count Axel de Fersen
John Barrymore as King Louis XV
Robert Morley as King Louis XVI
 
Director: W.S. Van Dyke II
Writers: Claudine West, Donald Ogden Stewart, Ernest Vajda, Stefan Zweig
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