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The Scarlet Empress

The Scarlet Empress(1934)

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  • Lost History

    • David H.
    • 5/11/18

    From The Scarlet Empress it's easy to see why Josef von Sternberg's directing career petered out after a few years. This film is all show and no substance. Although Louise Dresser is sturdy as the Dowager Empress, poor Marlene Dietrich seems lost looking a decent script to portray her character while Sam Jaffe has nothing to work with to make his character believable even if the real Peter III was nuttier than a fruitcake. Whoever did the music by splicing in Tchaikovsky and Wagner needed to go back to music school and learned how to orchestrate for a movie. And what's with all the gargoyles? It's as if (von) Sternberg seems to have a fetish for them. If you are looking for a historical film about one of the most important figures in Russian history, you won't find it here.

  • scarlett empress

    • kevin sellers
    • 4/4/18

    Visually stunning yet curiously depressing film. Could this feeling of joylessness possibly be attributed to the fact that there is no character about whom the viewer even remotely gives a good goddamn or, conversely, hate enough to cheer on his or her downfall? Or maybe it's the crappy acting from Ms Dietrich, who overdoes the scared/callow thing in the first half and the arrogance in the second, along with Sam Jaffe who seems to have taken Von Sternberg's cue to "be like Harpo." On the plus side Louise Dresser, an actress I've not heretofore watched, is pretty damn good as the dowager queen and damned if ol Joseph Von S. doesn't manage to create a swirling, romantic, twisted, macabre, nightmarish, sensuous, insane 18th century Russia of the mind. So let's give it a B plus.

  • the woman makes the throne.

    • a.morris
    • 3/25/18

    the most glamorous star of her time in a tailor made project for her. if you can keep yourselves from acting like you are the guy from adam ruins everything or like an evangelist on crazy pills.. you might think it is ok. got to remember..early days of the motion picture industry.. and this helped the business.. like it helped her.

  • The Scarlet Empress

    • Dashiell B.
    • 1/21/13

    An underrated camp film from the pairing of director Von Sternberg & star Dietrich. Charting the rise of power of Catherine II from the maniacal family of Jaffe's Peter III & Dresser's Empress Elizabeth. Always beautiful visuals of Sternberg's films overpower the uneven story, with excellent sets, costumes & cinematography. Fine escapist entertainment. I give it a 3.5/5.

  • The Scarlet Empress

    • Mark Sutch
    • 4/12/11

    *****

  • The Scarlet Empress (1934)

    • James Higgins
    • 3/16/10

    85/100. A rather unusual film, director Josef von Sternberg's stylish and offbeat direction certainly makes this an interesting movie. What a production, the art direction is amazing, as are the costumes. You can see von Sternberg's eye for the visual throughout the film, particularly in the dramatic cinematography and use of shadows and light. The cast is great. Marlene Deitrich is hauntingly beautiful, Louise Dresser is impressive as Empress Petrovna and Sam Jaffe does well as the half-wit, Grand Duke Peter. The score is powerful, and also occasionally intrusive. Although released in 1934, it has silent film elements in it, perhaps von Sternberg was not quite comfortable with talking pictures. Overall, it's quite a remarkable film.

  • A bizarre and elaborate film

    • rosebuxton
    • 1/7/10

    This movie had the most incredible and bizarre sets, a nightmare of Russian orthodox icons and gargoyles. Catherine begins as an innocent, but is corrupted by the court around her, and in the end, becomes a conqueror, white uniform and all. Many aspects of the plot are very sexy -- I wonder if it's on the cusp of the Production Code. The film doesn't pull any punches about the sexual excesses of its characters, and Catherine certainly doesn't suffer from her indiscretions; in fact, she benefits from them! I'm not sure I liked this movie, but I found it visually fascinating.

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