Madame Curie plays like the worst episode of The Big Bang Theory. Taking its cues from the Curies’ real story, we get to see how they met each other in Paris and fell in love. It’s a comical match of ego and intelligence as they fight the Sorbonne for more grant money and lab space to work on their discoveries. While Marie finds out she’s pregnant, she continues to work on the discovery of radium.
Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon were a team that just worked. Having buddied up in seven movies, they were box office gold. Hell, they sold a story about two academics to a war-time audience of people hoping their family came back from the War. The inspirational angle with Marie moving on after Pierre’s death was included as a bit of emotional propaganda to keep spirits high, but why?
The 1940s cinema was full of biopics like this, especially during World War II. They were designed as light propaganda to inspire people and keep hope alive. When families were receiving death notice letters on the regular, they would escape to the movie house to make sense of why life had gone straight to Hell. So, they flocked to see Madame Curie to see a tale of a woman who survived all the worst things. But, not radium…which was a point they left for another time.
Fun fact: Pierre and Marie’s coffins are lead lined because of how exposed to radioactivity they were during their lives. Even Madame Curie’s papers have to be protectively sealed to prevent contamination. Science is fun!
Warner Archive brings Madame Curie to Blu-ray with a few special features. You get a vintage short and trailer for the film. Honestly, these older movies need as much older material as possible to reconstruct how the initial theatrical exhibition must have been. Still, I’d recommend a purchase.