Although it has its admirers, this lengthy but consistently gripping film remains an underrated biopic done in the grand Hollywood manner. It's also an eerily apt showcase for Norma Shearer, and along with PRIVATE LIVES, SMILIN' THROUGH and THE WOMEN, stands as one of the best things she
ever did. Shearer, long MGM's queen, was on the verge of a decline, like Marie's, linked to her husband's death. True, Marie Antoinette was executed and Shearer lost interest in her career and retired a wealthy woman, but the parallels between the lives of the two women permeate the film. Planned
as early as 1933 by Shearer's husband, "boy genius" Irving Thalberg, but halted in 193...