The movie Juarez, starring Paul Muni, Bette Davis, Brian Aherne and Claude Rains, has the perfect story line. There’s action, love, violence and heartbreak, but most importantly, it brings attention to a piece of history that is rarely recognized: monarchs in Mexico.
Louis Napoleon III of France, played by Claude Rains, saw the American Civil War as an opportunity to advance the French government. Louis wanted to establish French influence in Mexico, which he knew was against the Monroe Doctrine. He took advantage of the fact that America was in a weak state due to the war, and could therefore not intervene as per the Monroe Doctrine. In the film, he discusses with his wife, Empress Eugenie, about who should fulfill the duty of the Emperor of Mexico. Eugenie suggests Maximilian von Hapsburg, but is unsure if he can be convinced to do the job. Fortunately for Napoleon, Maximilian takes the offer and he and Carlotta set sail for Mexico.
Meanwhile, in Mexico, Mexican citizens, who are mostly illiterate, are duped into signing in favor of the new monarchy. However, not all of them sign and not all of them are happy about what is taking place. There are two groups in the film that are portrayed as significantly opposite from each other. The supporters of the monarchy are well-dressed soldiers and Mexican conservatives, as well as French troops who respect and stand behind Maximilian. The supporters of Mexican democracy are also supporters of former president of the Mexican Republic, Benito Juarez (of whom the film is titled for). These Republicans, as they are called, are shown to be normal, every-day Mexican citizens who are rebelling against the monarchy and France. They live away from the city, in the hills and fight against the French.
Maximilian did his best and really cared for the Mexican people and considered himself one of them. He and Carlotta did not have any children, so in order to prove that they could provide a successor to the...
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