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Starting with our second Snark Week, I’ve picked a shitty frock flick to recap, because I love sharing the blow-by-blows with you. While I’ve asked you to choose for the past few years, I decided to executive decision things this year, since y’all keep refusing to choose this gem — so this year, I will recap Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story (1987). Armand Assante as Napoleon! Jacqueline Bisset as Josephine! First, you must know that the costumes for this were designed by Michel Fresnay, who has designed numerous operas as well as a few TV movies, and was nominated for an Emmy for Best Costume Design. Let’s do this!
It’s Paris, 1794, and the Terror portion of the French Revolution is underway. Aristocrats are being hauled to the guillotine. Military officer (no idea what rank) Napoléon Bonaparte (Armand Assante: 1492: Conquest of Paradise, The Mambo Kings) witnesses one such execution and tries to temper the executioners’ excesses.
Joséphine de Beauharnais (Jacqueline Bisset: Murder on the Orient Express, Anna Karenina, Dangerous Beauty, Joan of Arc, Dancing on the Edge) is imprisoned with her two children in a church with a number of other aristocrats, all awaiting their execution. She’s slated for execution tomorrow, but bribes a guard to put it off by one day by offering herself sexually. Bestie Thérèse Tallien (Stephanie Beacham of Dynasty fame but also from Napoleon and Love, Jane Eyre, The Queen’s Traitor) comforts her.
Revolutionary politician Paul Barras (Jean-Pierre Stewart: A Tale of Two Cities, La Révolution Française, The Adams Chronicles) takes Napoleon to see current political leader Robespierre (Marc de Jonge: La Révolution Française, Empire of the Sun). Robespierre wants Napoleon to do something for him (sorry no memory, I tune out when there are no women on screen), Napoleon refuses. Robespierre has Napoleon imprisoned.
I spend a great deal of time contemplating Armand Assante’s shitty, shitty mullet:
Robespierre is out, and the Terror is over! Josephine (and Therese) are released (as is Napoleon), and Josephine doesn’t have to sleep with the guard. Barras meets Therese upon her release, and Therese basically tells him to hook up with Josephine.
Napoleon is promoted to general and leads his troops in kicking ass.
He goes to visit Barras, and catches a glimpse of Josephine, and immediately falls in love … but won’t stay for cocktails because he’s dirty.
Meanwhile in Corsica, Mom Bonaparte expects great things from her son, while the rest of her children bicker. Mom (Letizia) is played by Jane Lapotaire (Rebecca, The Crown, Downton Abbey, He Knew He Was Right, Ruth Rendell Mysteries, The Devil’s Crown, Marie Curie):
But as you and I know her, Queen Mary I from Lady Jane:
She’s got two other sons: Joseph (Anthony Higgins: Tutankhamun, Nostradamus, Strauss Dynasty, Reilly: Ace of Spies, The Draughtsman’s Contract, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark) and Louis (Jeremy Brudenell: A Dance to the Music of Time, The House of Eliott, David Copperfield).
Back in Paris, Josephine has hooked up with Barras, who has installed her and her kids in a mansion. Her son Eugène (which should be pronounced “Yoo-Zhen” but is instead “Yoo-GEEN”) goes to surrender his dead father’s sword to the government. Napoleon is the one to receive him, and he tells Eugene to keep the sword, having a bonding moment with him.
Eugène tells mom, and she is peeved.
Josephine goes down to Napoleon’s office to tell him not to encourage her son towards a military career, because she wants him alive. Napoleon tells her he’s in love with her and rattles off all kinds of facts about her. Josephine is pissed, because she knows Barras told him all of this and is basically treating her like a piece of meat to be given away.
Therese and Barras are all plotty for Josephine to hook up with Napoleon. There’s a ball tonight, and he will be there!
Josephine wears my favorite shower curtain dress to the ball, excitedly telling Barras that she’s got NOTHING on underneath:
Napoleon has a bonding moment with Josephine’s daughter Hortense (and her dog!), which Josephine finds cute and decides to soften. She and Napoleon dance.
Therese warns military officer Jean-Andoche Junot not to hit on Josephine. Junot is played by Paul Brooke (The Affair of the Necklace):
Or as you and I know him, Mr. Tits Pervert from Bridget Jones’s Diary:
Napoleon is rising in the ranks. His brothers come from Corsica to hang and keep an eye on him for mom.
Josephine and Therese have a drink after shopping. Josephine isn’t sure about Napoleon.
Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2 of Napoleon and Josephine: a Love Story!