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Essential Art House: Mayerling

3.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The gorgeous duo of Charles Boyer and Danielle Darrieux first appeared on-screen together almost twenty years before The Earrings of Madame de . . . , in this sumptuous tragic romance from Anatole Litvak (The Snake Pit, Anastasia). Mayerling is the profoundly emotional true story of the doomed adulterous affair between Archduke Rudolph, heir to the Austrian throne, and the young and innocent baron's daughter Marie Vetsera.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Charles Boyer, Danielle Darrieux, Marthe Régnier, Yolande Laffon, Suzy Prim
  • Directors: Anatole Litvak
  • Writers: Claude Anet, Irma von Cube, Joseph Kessel, Marcel Achard
  • Producers: Seymour Nebenzal
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: September 15, 2009
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002E01MAG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,718 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Essential Art House: Mayerling" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
One of the greatest love stories ever to grace the screen, a bittersweet and poignant romance between a star-crossed Austrian Prince and his adoring mistress. MAYERLING is a touching masterpiece; a poetically tragic romance, the kind of which seem obsolete in movies anymore. Only Boyer could have played the doomed Rudolph so expertly and with such incisive understanding: he becomes the part and gives a majestic portrayal. Darrieux is tender and electric as the sad young woman who chooses death to be with the man she loves. The success of the film lies in its manner, not its matter. There have been many recognition-scenes, such as the one at the ballet where Danielle Darrieux as Marie Vetsera becomes aware that the prince in the royal box is indeed the young man of yesterday's carnival! It was a compliment on Miss Darrieux's acting to remember more scenes involving her than anyone else; her American debut was certainly promising. This in no way detracted from Boyer's brilliant performance as the temptestuous Rudolph which, it suffices to say, is a finished job. The completely excellent cast included Suzy Prim (!)as the comic Countess Larisch, Jean Dax as the glazed-eyed Emperor, Marthe Regnier as the conventional and unsuspecting mother and Debucourt as the implacable spy-director. Directed beautifully by Anatole Litvak.
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Format: DVD
Mayerling has been released a number of times by crummy companies specializing in PD movies. That's why the AV quality has always been awful. The recent rerelease by Criterion in 2009 is an official one and this the quality is great. So buy that one. If you see bad reviews, the buyer got one of the substandard prints of this movie.
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Format: VHS Tape
Watching this video, or, more accurately, trying to watch it, has to be one of the worst disappointments I've ever encountered on home video. The performances, photography, writing, and direction are absolutely first class. But the manufacturers of the video should be ashamed of themselves for releasing the film in this condition--the soundtrack (at least on this print) has deteriorated horrendously---it has the worst sound of any 1930's movie I have ever seen.Entire syllables are inaudible; the sound fades in and out like a bad shortwave radio connection. The bad quality of the sound has to be heard to be believed, and what's even worse, the music track seems relatively unaffected-only the dialogue suffers. The box proudly proclaims that the subtitles in this French film have been digitally improved. One wonders why they didn't pay more attention to the sound. I hope that there are better prints of this 1936 "Mayerling" (long unseen on television-especially since the 1968 English-language remake) still around. If not, and if that is one of the reasons it hasn't turned up on TV, then it is one of the great tragedies of film preservation.

UPDATE (2011): I have just seen part of the Criterion DVD of "Mayerling" online, and while the sound is far from perfect, it has been greatly improved. You can hear all of it, and it no longer fades in and out like a badly tuned radio.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Done in French with English subtitles, this is a romanticized version of a real historical incident of the late 1800s. Although the movie doesn't touch on it, the historical incident depicted may have had a gigantic bearing on world history, as it was one of the indirect causes of World War I.

Crown Prince Rudolf von Hapsburg of Austria marries against his will to another royal; the marriage quickly goes sour, and he turns to drinking and partying. Eventually he meets an innocent girl half his age and falls in love with her. But because of who he is, he cannot get a divorce, and because of who she is--an underaged girl with an overprotective mother--they can never be together. Eventually they give up on a happily-ever-after and settle simply for an "after."

I've always had a liking for Charles Boyer, and he's in fine form as the unhappy archduke. The police are constantly following him; his own father has it in for him; he can't catch a break. The girl in question, played by Danielle Darrieux (whom I have not seen before) was radiant as Marie. Anatole Litvak directed. This is a 1936 movie so of course it's in moody black and white, and the lighting is creative and used to great effect. One more thing to think about...this was a mere 47 years after the events described.

But, what's funny is to watch this movie, immediately followed by the Audrey Hepburn-Mel Ferrer version of 21 years later. It's almost a scene-for-scene remake.
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Format: VHS Tape
Mayerling, 1937 film

This begins in 1883 Vienna. A band marches by. Franz Joseph receives visitors. They talk about the rioting students, inflamed by the writing of Szeps (a liberal). Szeps is a friend of Prince Rudolph. Force will be used to gain respect. Cavalry chase down people on the streets. [An echo of the disturbances in Paris?] Many are arrested and brought before the police, including Szeps. One of these is Rudolph of Hapsburg! He will marry for dynastic reason. [Such inbreeding can cause problems, as with the Tsarevich.] Two detectives watch who visit Prince Rudolph years later. Rudolph is bored at his party. The police are watching him and plan to arrest Szeps. That gypsy sings for the police too. Rudolph visits a music hall and watches dancing men. Then he sees a young woman arrive unescorted. They watch a play. Punished for love? There is a game with swans. She tells him he looks like Archduke Rudolph!

Rulolph learns the police want to arrest Szeps, but he got away. Count Toofe visits and they talk. They want to protect Rudolph. Rudolph visits His Majesty, who is not receiving visitors. Everyone bows to him. "Poor prince!" Rudolph will attend the opera tonight. Little Vetsera is there. They watch a ballet. Rudolph watches Vetsera. [Watch their facial expressions.] Schratt is with the Emperor, like Mme. Pompadour to King Louis XV. Rudolph meets Marie Vetsera in church. He wants to see her again. A visitor brings a message to Marie. She gets advice on behavior from Countess Larisch before meeting Rudolph. [Were love affairs the pastime of the nobility?] Marie is different from the others, she wants nothing. They are watched, this romance must be ended. A letter is written about the meetings. The police watch Rudolph. Marie's mother gets that letter and rebukes her.
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