SNARK WEEK RECAP: Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story (1987) – Part 2

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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!

Picking up from yesterday

 

Josephine invites Napoleon to dinner:

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Wearing beige. Sigh.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Ties at the shoulder.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

It’s VERY sheer.

Josephine tries to hook up with Napoleon; he proposes marriage; she refuses, saying she’s been a wife before and it is much more fun to be a mistress. He tells her he loves her; she says she doesn’t love him (hello, she’s known him about two minutes!). They clinch (sadly, no tender fireplaces in sight).

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

I was hoping for some kind of anachronistic bra as her dress came off, but no dice.

Napoleon’s brothers are pissed he’s hooking up with Josephine. They fight, and midway through Napoleon suffers an epileptic seizure (which apparently is true, although “the epileptic seizures were the result of chronic uremia from a severe urethral stricture caused by gonorrhea that was transmitted from his wife, Empress Josephine” according to this scholarly source).

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Josephine tells Barras she doesn’t want to marry Napoleon, but Barras says he’s going to stop paying for her house, obviously as a way to force her hand. I’m totally unclear why he (and Therese) are so invested.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Lavender lace over a satin slip — serious bridesmaid action.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

At least her eyeshadow matches her dress?

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Napoleon and Josephine get married! He talks through the whole service, because he’s a busy, busy man.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

I actually don’t hate this!

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

The simple satin is elegant!

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

And I like the high collar.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

She’s got a train she’s holding.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Therese, on the other hand, never fails to disappoint.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story
1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Note the FREE-STANDING collar.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Is she a Chippendale’s dancer?

Mom Bonaparte gets the wedding news and is PISSED her son is marrying an OLDER woman of no particular import. Cue “viper in my bosom” speeches!

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

She’s got these weird fringe-accented oversleeves going on.

Sense and Sensibility gif - viper in my bosom

You know, from Sense and Sensibility.

She decides she needs to send her daughter, Pauline (Ione Skye from Say Anything), to Paris to keep a closer eye on things. Pauline is stoked; other daughter, Caroline, is mute.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Both seem to think they’re playing Little Bo Peep on stage c. 1905.

say anything gif

Caroline is played by Julie Graham of The Bletchley Circle.

The Bletchley Circle (2012-2014)
1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Apparently “fashion” hasn’t happened in Corsica?

Napoleon is being posted to Italy. He bids Josephine farewell.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

More slutty red! More cold shoulders.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

I had convinced myself Josephine had cut her hair until now.

Napoleon gives inspirational speeches and kicks butt in Italy. I refuse to recap any war shit. He’s been writing Josephine several times a day and demands answers to every letter. She can’t keep up and is stressed.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Channeling Liz Taylor in her TOTALLY 1980s beige poly caftan.

liz taylor caftan
1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Thank god for Therese.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

So much tits!

Napoleon has won a major victory in Italy. Crowds appear outside Josephine’s house calling for her. She finally goes to the window, but has flashbacks of the guillotine (mob = scary to Josephine).

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Poor Eugene has to wear a ruffly shirt.

i don't wanna be a pirate seinfeld gif
1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Matching colors.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Yet another lace overdress, but more covered up this time.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Clearly someone got excited about double-edged lace.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

It’s very curtain-y.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

I feel like my step-mother rocked this look.

Napoleon’s brother Joseph and sister Pauline are randomly in the crowd (what, they can’t, like, introduce themselves to their brother’s wife?). Pauline flirts with a military officer.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

I have NO idea what’s up with Pauline’s mix-and-match dress.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Especially the world’s stiffest sash.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

She’s gonna be trouble!

Portrait of either Marie-Denise Villers, née Lemoine; or Pauline Bonaparte; by Marie-Victoire Lemoine, 1798-99, National Gallery of Victoria

What the real Pauline may have looked like around this time | Portrait of either Marie-Denise Villers, née Lemoine; or Pauline Bonaparte; by Marie-Victoire Lemoine, 1798-99, National Gallery of Victoria

At some kind of weekend house party … Napoleon wants Josephine to come visit him at the front. In order to get her out of it, Barras tells Napoleon she’s pregnant. Therese tells her the problem is handled, and Josephine is pissed. She once again feels like a piece of meat with no say in her own life … plus, Napoleon is smothering her by letter.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

I actually like Therese’s spencer!

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Stripes! Plus, spencers are cute! The bonnet is acceptable, at least it’s not all Baby Huey like her earlier ones have been.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Although the fabric looks like wrapping paper.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Oh god kill me now.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

WHEN DOES THE BEIGE END.

Josephine plays pool with Mr. Tits Pervert, while a young block of wood admires her. The block of wood is Capt. Hippolyte Charles (Patrick Cassidy who played Johnny Castle in the Dirty Dancing TV series, which I didn’t previously know existed).

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

I was not expecting this!

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

How many red cold-shoulder dresses does she own?

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Block of wood accompanied by Wearing All the Wet ‘N Wild Palettes at Once. Her spencer is SUPER cute with the points and tassels! I hate the puffed sleeves tho.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Toothy!

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Hey actual back buttons!

Josephine continues to be upset about not having any agency. She bitches to Therese, then yells at Barras.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story
1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Therese is in her best belly dance-inspired teal dress.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

With underbust fringe.

Then Josephine cries and hooks up with Block of Wood.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

ZZZZZZZ.

Meanwhile, Napoleon pines for Josephine, knowing she doesn’t love him — yet.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Wait what happened to his mullet?

Josephine is eating breakfast while the Block of Wood is telling her how much he loves her, and that he has a surprise for her. She’s clearly not feeling him anymore. Josephine is being sent to Italy to join Napoleon. She says goodbye to her son, then heads out to the carriage to find that, surprise, her brother-in-law (Joseph) AND her lover are joining her for the journey, along with Mr. Tits Pervert. She’s Not Happy.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Cold shoulder nightgown!

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

In a sort-of redingote/pelisse.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

White revers on the jacket.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

I thought the bonnet fabric was interesting, and I like that they got the very diamond-shaped back pieces of Regency dress.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

The jacket back is long…

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

But it’s cut away at the sides.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

When Josephine first walks out to the carriage, she gasps because this is the first time she’s seen Napoleon’s brother Joseph, and she’s shocked by the resemblance. What about this guy looks like Armand Assante?

Various tedious war stuff happens with Napoleon, particularly him interacting with a soldier who’s lost an eye (and who has the worst accent imaginable — “It-ly! Where’s that?”), but I refuse to recap it because zzzz.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Napoleon gets one outfit for 75% of this film.

Josephine arrives in Italy along with her daughter’s governess, Louise, who I guess is now Josephine’s maid? And daughter Hortense’s dog? Joseph wants to Speak To Napoleon but Napoleon says not now. Block of Wood says “GOODBYE, Josephine” in a super portentous way. Just before her arrival, a soldier had told Napoleon she’s lost the (fictional) baby. He’s all grief but also trying to comfort her, telling her they’ll have more babies. Josephine is surprised to find that she’s in love with Napoleon. They clinch.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Her dress has ties with tassels. We’ll see what’s underneath this spencer later.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

The loopy piping is reminiscent of military braid, and very on-trend for the 1790s what with all the wars.

Josephine is in bed. Louise brings her letters, one of which is from the Block of Wood. Josephine goes to take a bath, and Louise peeks at the letter.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Another oh-so-accurate nightgown!

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Napoleon joins her in the tub … with his boots on!

Josephine goes to Verona … to meet up with the Block of Wood, who’s told her he’s sick or injured. He’s not, he just wanted to see her. At a museum, she breaks things off with him, telling him she took advantage of him. The soldier accompanying her tells her they need to leave as a battle is about to take place.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

A random extra in a 1780s-style sort-of robe à la turque and big hat.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Oh god, this fabric! Is so synthetic!

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

HER BONNET. IS MISSING THE BACK. And is made of that plasticky faux-straw braid so popular in the 1950s-70s.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

I hate these poufy sleeves with the fire of many suns.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Her “pelisse” isn’t a pelisse, instead the whole ensemble is one piece … and she shows an awful lot of (unstocking’ed) leg!

Josephine ends up in the middle of the battle. She has to flee for her life on foot and hide in the woods; the soldier protecting her is killed. For a while, Napoleon doesn’t know what happened to her and is terrified, but she’s located.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

 

Stay tuned for part 3 of our recap of Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story tomorrow!

 

 

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17 Responses

  1. Bel

    That backless bonnet is incredible. It looks like nothing more than one of the giant plastic visors you see tourists wear on a hot day at disnseyland or the like.

    Reply
  2. Gray

    This thing is hysterically awful. How do you watch it all?

    Therese’s teal w/ gold boob fringe ensemble looks like she’s auditioning for Sampson & Delilah.
    The Baby Huie 1830s-ish bonnets do seem to be giving way for more accurate examples, but no one has a cap underneath. Actually, underneath doesn’t seem to be a concept here since there seems to be zero underpinnings anywhere.

    Do I have time for a drink or two before part III?

    Reply
  3. Susan Pola Staples

    So do you think North and South’s Tits Out is related to Therese? They wear similar — but years apart similar –clothes, similar 1980s hair, are used by mem, etc. Lol.

    Reply
  4. Lily Lotus Rose

    This is just so bad… Plus, I didn’t know how much I needed in my life the phrases, “Liz Taylor’s 1980s caftan” and “I refuse to cap any war shit” until now.

    Reply
  5. Maha

    Note the FREE-STANDING collar? I just noted Resi’s daughter side-eyeing mommy’s boobs teetering on the edge of falling out, like, real hard. Almost as good as that meme with Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield.

    Reply
    • hsc

      That one costume on Therese really hit the snark-worthy trifecta: derpy bonnet, a near-illegal dose of “I don’t care, I want my tits out,” and even the equivalent of a floating ruff.

      And she’s even wearing those crappy wrist-length fingerless mesh gloves.

      Was Stephanie Beacham contractually obliged to show her tits in everything she did? (Hopefully, she kept the puppies inside the entire run of SISTER KATE, when she played the title role.)

      Reply
  6. Nzie

    So many bad clothes. But Therese’s take the cake. Whenever I look at costumes like that I just imagine feeling cold and uncomfortable. Ugh.

    Also, what the heck with this plot? I can’t say I’m an expert in the particular history, but it seems… well let’s say I believe some of this could have gone down but the particular plotting seems over the top.

    Reply
  7. Nancy Ewart

    I think that French history got rather lost in the story but hey, boobs & lace. Viva! But does he ever shave? That perpetual 5o’clock shadow is so annoying.

    Reply
    • hsc

      Armand Assante is basically a sasquatch in real life, so he has permanent five o’clock shadow unless the makeup department spackles his face.

      Actually, with his beard turning white it probably isn’t a problem these days.

      Reply
  8. mmcquown

    Napoleon might have had a dozen uniforms, but they’d all look the same. Each type of unit had a different design; cuirassiers were different from hussars, were different from artillerists, etc Sometimes units within the same specialty would be distinguished by the colours of the lapel facings, buttons, or other trim, but they would all have the same cut and general style. How men managed to fight effectively in these often tight and constricting garments never ceases to amaze me..

    Reply
    • Aleko

      Second that: military and naval men in France wore their uniform pretty much all the time (in contrast to Britain where uniform was only worn when with one’s regiment / ship: you should never see Jane Austen’s Captain Wentworth in his naval uniform, for example), so apart from the different orders of dress (full dress, undress, service dress etc) they would always look the same until the uniform regs changed.

      The garments weren’t as constricting as they look: they were cut on a totally different principle to modern jackets and trousers, which required them to be tight in order to allow free movement. Counter-intuitive, but true. Decades ago my husband briefly owned an original 1812-reg British infantry officer’s jacket. It was skin-tight on him – but wearing it he could perform the entire contemporary sword exercise, all the regulation blows and parries, without straining any of the seams at all.

      Reply
    • Al Don

      Napoléon had a few different designs over the years and I think the ladies at Frock Flicks are pointing out this series not displaying that range? Early on he had quite different uniforms, from [acting] Colonel to Brigadier General. This series seems to make it all one. He might have worn his red Premier Consul uniform while on the Marengo campaign, later trading it for his general’s uniform. This is of course all before his more known colonel’s Imperial Guard uniform, which he often wore as Emperor.

      I’ve seen his famous grey coat in person, along with his bicorn. It’s his iconic look, but I’ve seen two references to an olive overcoat: Capt. Frederick Lewis Maitland’s description of first meeting Napoléon on the H.M.S. Bellerophon and one obscure lithograph.

      And on the subject of uniforms, I do love the story of Napoléon’s choice painter Jacques-Louis David designing a regiment’s uniforms – mounted grenadiers. David wanted them in the style of Modo Antiquo, mixing operatic Ancient Greeks with military regalia. He paraded these designs for Napoléon and his marshals. Napoléon found them downright hideous. Even the peacock himself, Marshal Murat, was dumbfounded and thought them disgustingly garish. Napoléon politely declined to put them in production and never invited David to design uniforms again…

      Reply
  9. hsc

    BTW, the “Block of Wood” actor is Patrick Cassidy, half-brother of David “Keith Partridge” Cassidy and brother of Shaun “Joe Hardy” Cassidy. (I guess he wasn’t androgynous enough to make it as a ’70s teen heart throb, like his more famous siblings.)

    Reply

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