Madame Curie (1943)

MGM set out to make this biography as accurate as possible without alienating less scientifically inclined audiences. They got Marie Curie’s daughter, Eve, to provide family pictures that were used in designing sets, costumes and makeup. And they hired a Cal Tech physicist to serve as technical advisor and re-create some of the Curies’ experiments that led to the discovery of radium. That didn’t stop them from adding the Hollywood touch, which resulted in the material being shaped as a vehicle for Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon in their third of eight films together. Eve Curie’s biography had first been optioned by Universal as an Irene Dunne vehicle, then MGM bought it from them with plans to team Greta Garbo and Spencer Tracy, but when Garbo retired the project was shelved. With the success of Garson and Pidgeon’s first two films together, Blossoms in the Dust (1941) and Mrs. Miniver (1942), they needed a vehicle for the popular team. The result was another exercise in romantic reticence with the stars as accomplished scientists whose confidence fails them in matters of the heart. Audiences ate it up, which proved a mixed blessing for Garson, who had hoped for a break from inspirational dramatic roles so she could indulge her love for comedy.

(d. Mervyn LeRoy, 124m, 35mm)

In attendance: Nuclear Chemistry Professor Emeritus Darleane C. Hoffman Phd.