Conquest (1937)

Genres - Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature]  |   Release Date - Oct 22, 1937 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 112 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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It's rare that the male lead in a Greta Garbo film is able to hold his own against the screen legend, but that is the case with Conquest; indeed, many would say that Charles Boyer not only held his own but stole the film right out from under her. That is perhaps overstating the case, especially when one considers the size of Garbo's role and her character's importance to the script compared to Boyer's, but it is true that Boyer at the time received the lion's share of the attention from critics. Conquest has a reputation as a white elephant, a box office failure (due to its for-the-time extreme cost) that marked the decline of Garbo as a star. But when viewed objectively, Conquest is a moderately entertaining, if often quite slow, costume drama. Clarence Brown's direction is quite tired, and this has an unfortunate affect on the film as a whole. But it is beautifully mounted, with lavish sets and costumes and keen attention to detail that will impress many viewers. The screenplay is so much nonsense, with at times appalling dialogue, but it does given Garbo and Boyer the chance to strut their stuff, and neither disappoints in the least. Despite its flaws, it offers the rare chemistry of Garbo and a male lead that matches her in intensity, and is worth seeing for this alone.