SNARK WEEK RECAP: Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story (1987) – Part 3

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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!

 

In case you missed them, check out recaps part one and two!

Josephine is truly in love with Napoleon! They are shmoopy.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

This is the dress she was wearing when she arrived in Italy.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

I actually like what they did with the stripes, which are angled and pleated around the waist … just, did they have to do it with beige?

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Her coordinating choker is stupid…

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

And a standalone item.

Pauline is being slutty with a soldier in front of everyone. Napoleon hauls her into his study to yell at her and tell her she has to marry him. There’s some choice dialogue like “I don’t want to get married! I’m only sixteen!” Pauline tells Napoleon that he should look to his wife to find someone who has shamed the family.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Ya know, as one does.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Pauline has a sleeveless dress and spencer on … for day?

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

LOTS of boob!

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

She emotes by bending over … looking like she’s constipated. It’s not good.

Napoleon and Josephine are eating lunch, and Napoleon is very quiet. Josephine presses him, but he just says he has to execute an officer as an example to all the soldiers who are trying to shirk their duty. Josephine asks who it is, and it turns out it’s the Block of Wood. She’s aghast, Napoleon yells at her for fucking around, she’s apologetic and teary and there’s more choice dialogue.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Oh god. Cold shoulders. Poufy sleeves. Evening neckline/sleeves. Silvery whatever.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

At least it has a good back closure.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine- A Love Story

I think it’s a patterned sheer on top of a solid silver?

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

I’m surprised by how little package shows, but here we can see Armand is dressing left.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

The pathos! Accompanying dialogue: “(yelling) I was wrong! (quietly sobbing) I was wrong.”

Josephine tells Louise to pack her bags, she’s not hanging around for this torture. Napoleon is sweaty and upset, then comes into J’s room and has a seizure. She comforts him. At the last minute, Napoleon spares Block of Wood from execution.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Louise is always in pinner aprons to show us she’s a servant.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

SO SWEATY, SO MANY RUFFLES.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

WAIT A SECOND … those ruffles are sewn on! And the shirt opens in back!!

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Oh god, it’s SO WRONG.

North Italian School, Portrait of a Man holding a Compass, 18th century

What a man’s shirt and ruffles SHOULD look like. Okay, this is slightly earlier, but the concept remains the same. Read more in my bibs rant | North Italian School, Portrait of a Man holding a Compass, 18th century

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Epilepsy, y’all.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Josephine trying to stop the execution through puffy hair.

Pauline gets married to her own Block of Wood! All the Bonapartes are there.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Shitty lace, stupid neck bow.

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

SO committed to the beige! At least she has long sleeves on for once, even if they’re sheer.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Mom owns one dress, sisters are acceptable — although I do like far-right’s ensemble (although the Greek key designs are clunky)

Josephine tries to chat up Mrs. Bonaparte, who tells her she’s too old for her son and is super bitchy.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Mom’s dress is patterned on the bodice back. Far right’s overskirt is high-low.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Mom’s livened up the hair.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Team Bitchface!

Pauline purposefully rips Josephine’s train, but Josephine shrugs it off, saying she didn’t like it anyway and turning the lace into a shawl.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Napoleon returns triumphant to Paris, where cheering crowds welcome him. Barras and Talleyrand are determined that Napoleon not be allowed to join the consul (committee? whatever group is in power), and pass a law that you have to be 40 to be on it (N is only 29). At a ball, they talk Napoleon into leading an army to conquer Egypt.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

These are DEFINITE repeat dresses from the last ball scene.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Toothy turns out to be Madame de Stael, aka Leigh Taylor-Young, who was on Dallas for several years.

Mme de Staël avec sa fille Albertine by Marguerite Gérard, c. 1805, Château de Coppet

This is the earliest image of Madame de Staël (a writer and political theorist) that I can find that’s post-1789 | Mme de Staël avec sa fille Albertine by Marguerite Gérard, c. 1805, Château de Coppet

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

TV Stael is RIGHT outta 1960.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

THAT HAIR! Is fabulous. Just, not, Directoire/Empire.

bouffant gif
1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Josephine keeps it Grecian, but in red.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Another “Let’s get physical” bandeau.

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

The English aren’t happy about the French going into Egypt. Admiral Lord Nelson is off to fight them. Josephine was going to join on this trip, but Napoleon sends her to a spa once he finds out about the English.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Lord Nelson is played by Nickolas Grace (Daniel Deronda, An Ideal Husband, Brideshead Revisited).

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Eugene is all growed up, in the military, and joining Napoleon’s Egyptian expedition.

At the spa, Josephine reunites with Therese, who is down on her luck. Josephine offers to lend her money.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Therese is in a boring print dress, but at least her tits are out.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Or is it embroidered? Dunno, but it’s not very 1790s.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Stripes for Josephine.

Hortense comes in, all upset because her dog is fighting another and she can’t break them up. Instead of, ya know, asking someone nearby to help, she goes up several flights of stairs to get her mother. Josephine rushes down to help and trips and falls down the stairs.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Hortense is all growed up.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Derpy fichu, Greek key sash.

Portrait of Queen Hortense by François Gérard, c. 1800-10, Château de Malmaison

Here’s what the real Hortense would be looking like in a few years | Portrait of Queen Hortense by François Gérard, c. 1800-10, Château de Malmaison

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

Piping on the back and cuffs.

A doctor attends Josephine, who should recover after more leeches. She asks him if this will affect her ability to get pregnant, he says only god knows.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Napoleon gives inspiring speeches in Egypt. The soldiers cheer but grumble. There’s other war stuff, but I literally tune out.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Josephine is nearly mended. She bonds with Hortense.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Hortense gets one dress.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Josephine is back in that purple lace overgown, but with a different slip and a white sheer over-thing.

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

Hortense’s hairdresser seems to think it’s 1975 and this is a Breck shampoo commercial.

breck shampoo

Block of Wood comes to visit, bringing a new PUPPY to replace Hortense’s who apparently DIED IN THE DOGFIGHT OH MY GOD.

Although Josephine is excited, she says nothing can ever replace the previous dog (yes, dog details are important!). She realizes that Louise is spying on them and is furious, because this can compromise her reputation with Napoleon.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Block of Wood is out of the military, I guess. Lots of collars!

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

PUPPY.

Louise has been spying for Talleyrand. He pays her but has no further use for her since she’s been fired. He blackmails Mr. Tits Pervert into trying to tell Napoleon that Block of Wood visited Josephine, but Napoleon basically says “not now.”

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Cute spencer with the frogs on the front, even if the colors are boring.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

You know she’s bad because she wears MAKEUP!

Josephine has left Napoleon — he says it’s for Block of Wood, but that’s never clarified.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Josephine arrives with Hortense in tow to beg for Napoleon’s forgiveness. She never actually apologizes or explains, just bangs on the door and shouts “Let me in!” It’s implied that Napoleon may poison himself.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

How can Napoleon resist all this cold shoulder?

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

DOUBLE cold shoulders!

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

Maybe she’s born with it.

Henry IV

Maybe it’s Maybelline.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

Hortense is in peach.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

With bridal-pearl hair.

Eugene shows up and joins in the banging, and finally Napoleon relents. The family has a weirdly tender group hug.

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

As I tell my boy dog, “That’s for special alone time.”

1987 Napoleon and Josephine a Love Story

 

Stay tuned for yet more Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story tomorrow!

 

 

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13 Responses

  1. Kat

    The only time I really notice a character vs an actor’s age (with the exception of the requisite late 20something playing a 15 year old) is when the script includes something to specifically call out how old/young a character is supposed to be, which drags into contrast how old/young the actor is in comparison. That being said, Armand Assante was much closer to meeting that ‘no dudes under 40’ rule than Napoleon was historically at the time of filming the miniseries.

    Reply
  2. Susan Pola Staples

    Maybe Napoleon, selfish egocentric twit that he is, should have given his wife a puppy as well. A poodle comes to mind. After all in Egypt he began taking lovers. But the clothes are really showing they’re from the Age of Dallas/Dynasty, but without SueEllen and Crystal.

    Reply
  3. Jamie J LaMoreaux

    oh my, who didn’t want to be a Breck Girl?!?! you could even send away for a series of portraits of the Breck girls. sigh.

    Reply
  4. Nzie

    When I saw the image for the post.. my goodness. I don’t much care for cold shoulder dresses today when they are a thing. Who would think they were a thing then?? Also this plot just seems bizarre. The last image/meme kills me. :-)

    Reply
  5. Aleko

    That patterned-sheer-over-solid-silver number is a weird mash-up. The front-opening skirt with big embroidery all the way down each edge looks like the train of a First Empire full-dress court ensemble (or rather it would if it were made in velvet, separate from the gown, with narrow shoulder straps to hold it up*); it doesn’t relate to anything anybody would have been wearing in the Directoire, which we are still in at this point.

    Nice example here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/60861613@N00/5918606895

    Reply
  6. M.E. Lawrence

    Bloody raving hell. There is so very much wrong here that it’s quite enjoyable. Plus a puppy and a Breck Girl! At least Assante looks vaguely Napoleonic. I’m reading a new book about Garbo (by Robert Gottlieb); she would have made a soulful Josephine–N. liked soulful women who would read him poetry–but played Marie Walewska instead.

    Reply
    • Aleko

      Nothing to do with Napoleon, but I offer for your consideration this 1847 portrait of Tsar Nicholas I in the British Royal Collection.
      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4e/Franz_Kr%C3%BCger_%281797-1857%29_-_Nicholas_I%2C_Emperor_of_Russia_%281796-1855%29_-_RCIN_406814_-_Royal_Collection.jpg
      The Tsar gave it to Queen Victoria as a present after his visit to England. Victoria rhapsodised about his good looks: “he is still very handsome; very tall with a very fine figure […] & beautiful Grecian profile.’ You don’t fool us, Vicky: we know what you liked about him!

      Reply
    • Al Don

      Not to spoil anyone’s fun, but almost certainly a hoax. Initially Antommarchi never actually claimed it was a John Thomas. Then many decades later, someone just… decided it was. And at that: if there’s one thing everyone agreed about Antommarchi is that he is a known liar. He actually shouldn’t have been allowed to be a doctor.

      In any event, everyone from Napoléon to the British absolutely despised him. When Antommarchi asked if he could remove Napoléon’s ribs as souvenirs, the British physicians responded with an unequivocal, “No.” The would not allow a quack like Antommarchi near Napoléon’s body unsupervised. (Although Sir Hudson Lowe held no esteem for Napoléon, British physicians took their charge very seriously and with reverence.) In all likelihood Napoléon’s best leg of three remains with the Emperor.

      Reply
      • hsc

        At least there’s a physical object involved here, as opposed to the often-repeated urban legend that John Dillinger’s penis is in a jar somewhere in the Smithsonian, if you just know where to look.

        Of course, this dried-up thing actually being Napoleon’s Bonerpart is just about as likely as that bloated thing floating in a jar in a museum in St. Petersburg actually being the severed schwanzstucker of Grigori Rasputin.

        Reply

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