Madam Curie (1943)

Film Title: Madam CurieMadame-Curie

Year: 1943

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Silent or Talkie: Talkie

Genre: Drama/Biographical

Starring:

  • Greer Garson
  • Walter Pidgeon
  • Henry Travers
  • Albert Bassermann

Review

The real Madame (Marie) Curie was a physicist and chemist who pioneered radioactivity. She was also the only woman to win two Nobel prizes. In this film adaptation of her life, Curie is played by Greer Garson. Curie’s husband Pierre is played by Walter Pidgeon. Curie starts out as Marie Sklodowska, a student living in Paris with very little money. During one of her classes, she is taken ill and passes out. Her professor tries to find someone to care for her, but realizes that she is alone. Feeling sorry for Marie, the professor invites her to a gathering at his home that his wife is holding. One of the guests is Pierre Curie, a workaholic who seems all but completely aloof in matters other than work. Marie and Pierre quickly become friendly and Pierre offers to let her use his work lab. Through the course of her work, and their time together, he notices that she has a natural flair for science. Marie plans on going home to Poland after she graduates, but Pierre thinks that it would be a waste for her to leave Paris. He invites her to his home, where they begin to study together, slowly falling for each other in the process. They don’t realize the developing feelings under the heavy load of numbers and research. Nevertheless, Pierre eventually proposes, albeit in a very unromantic way. Marie becomes pregnant at the same time she’s having a scientific breakthrough. Although she has a few pieces of evidence of support her discovery, the university refuses to fund any extended research until more evidence is submitted. Pierre and Marie start working from a decaying shed, gathering a massive amount of rocks to study their energy. They believe that an element called “Radium” is present, despite numerous setbacks (including Marie burning her hands) in trying to extract it. Finally, they discover a crystallization method that proves successful, and thier “radium” is born. The discovery makes them famous; they graduate to brand new equipment and giving speeches around the world. Suddenly, tragedy strikes and Marie must face a tough decision.

Madame Curie was directed by Mervyn LeRoy, who is cemented in film history for his contributions to such classics as The Wizard of Oz, Waterloo Bridge, Little Caesar and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. LeRoy had a midas touch on film, directing 13 different actors and actresses in oscar-nominated roles. For Madame Curie, Greer Garson and Walter Pigeon were nominated for Best Actress and Best Actor in a Leading Role, respectively. The film’s other five nods were for Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, Best Picture and Best Sound, Recording. All in all, Garson and Pigeon made 13 films together. Their on-screen chemistry was unmistakable. While Pidgeon’s career went all the way back to silent films, Garson’s began near the end of the 1930s. Van Johnson also made an appearance in Madame Curie as a reporter. Johnson played in many war films to compensate for not being able to fight in the actual war. A road accident resulted in a metal plate being put in his head, rendering him ineligible to serve. In addition, Johnson also appeared in a greal deal of musicals, including some with Gene Kelly. One of Johnson’s very first roles was an uncredited chorus boy in “Too Many Girls”, the legendary film where Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz first met.

On Video

Warner Brothers has just released Madame Curie on DVD in an exclusive deal with Amazon.com. A biographical film, originally made by MGM, Madame Curie is the story of one of history’s most determined women. Its two main stars, Greer Garson and Walter Pigeon, are best known for their collaboration in “Mrs. Miniver” the previous year. They co-star here in this effort which ended impressively with seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

Conclusion

Warner Brothers has treated us to few bonus features, which include 1937 Oscar-nominated Pete Smith Specialty MGM short: “Romance of Radium” and a Greer Garson Trailer Gallery: Goodbye Mr. Chips ’39, Madame Curie, Mrs. Miniver, Pride and Prejudice, Random Harvest. If you’re looking for 124 minutes of classic fun, this disc will be a welcomed edition to your collection.

Click HERE to purchase this DVD!