Director: Terence Young
Writer: Claude Anet, Michel Arnold, Denis Cannan
Stars: Omar Sharif, Catherine Deneuve, James Mason, Ava Gardner, James Robertson Justice
Countries: United Kingdom, France
It’s the late nineteenth century Austria. The Emperor Franz-Joseph and his son, the Crown Prince, Archduke Rudolf, have never seen eye to eye. While the Emperor retains the traditions of the empire in the rapidly changing world keeping it a police state, Rudolf is liberal, wanting to see the people have a say in what happens in their lives. Rudolf even rejected the Emperor’s choice of a Spanish wife for him, he instead choosing Belgian Stephanie as his wife, that marriage which he himself never saw and will never see as anything more than a political alliance, Stephanie who he considers a shrew. While Rudolf has almost an unhealthy infatuation with his mother, the Empress Elizabeth, she has largely been an absent figure from Vienna and thus his life. As Franz-Joseph has had his steady mistress in Elizabeth’s frequent absences, he has allowed Rudolf to have the same in the form of actress Mitzi Kaspar as the Emperor knows she could never be more than a dalliance and as she retains a certain balance within the royal house. Things change when Rudolf meets twenty year old Baroness Maria Vetsera. Their attraction begins as a clandestine affair which then grows into love which Rudolf increasingly flaunts in public in wanting always to be with her. This does not sit well with Franz-Joseph, his secret police who do whatever they need to retain the Emperor’s natural order. As such, Rudolf tries to find options to make Maria his wife, one, with the help of his good friend, Edward, the Prince of Wales, to live as commoners in England, or two, to support the imminent and secret uprising in Hungary, they who want Rudolf as their King, which in realistic terms means an act of treason on Rudolf’s part against his father.