Mayerling (1936)

Mayerling (1936)

“Ever since I met you, nothing makes sense.”

When the bored crown prince of Austria (Charles Boyer), who has been forced by his father (Jean Dax) into a marriage of convenience with a Belgian princess (Yolande Laffon), meets a beautiful young baroness (Danielle Darrieux), he becomes completely enamored and stops his womanizing ways — but does the couple have any chance at a life together?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Anatole Litvak Films
  • Charles Boyer Films
  • Danielle Darrieux Films
  • French Films
  • Royalty and Nobility
  • Star-Crossed Lovers
  • Womanizers

Based on the real-life murder-suicide pact of Crown Prince Rudolf and his lover Mary Freiin von Vetsera — known as the Mayerling Incident given its occurrence at a hunting lodge in Mayerling, Austria — this star-crossed romance by director Anatole Litvak features stunning young Danielle Darrieux (just 19 at the time) as a woman faithful and loving enough to capture even the most jaded playboy-heart.

Perhaps most interesting early on are scenes of some of the entertainment opportunities Boyer attends to pass his time — including a surreal slap-dance-fight (?):

… and “swan ringing” at a carnival (done to impress Darrieux):

The remainder of the storyline is fairly standard doomed-romance fare, though the ending provides more of a jolt than expected — and it’s all very atmospherically filmed.

Note: It was interesting reading up on Boyer after watching this film; he married the love of his life in 1934 and committed suicide two days after her death in 1978. So much for his movie-star persona as a womanizing Frenchman! (He was also multi-lingual — speaking not only English and French but German, Spanish, and Italian — and had a degree in philosophy from the Sorbonne.)

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Fine performances by the leads
  • Atmospheric cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look.


One thought on “Mayerling (1936)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see: “fairly standard doomed-romance fare” indeed! And heavy-handed to boot – but then, considering the characters and the setting, it *would* be.

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