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THE SCARLET EMPRESS

USA, 1934 (MIFF 1967, Programme 25)

Director: Josef von Sternberg

Sophia Frederica is brought from Germany to Russia to become the wife of the mad Grand Duke Peter. She is, at first, innocent and wondering, but when married and plunged into the intrigue of the decadent Court, she gradually hardens and, with the aid of some of the guards, overthrows the Grand Duke and triumphantly takes the throne as the Empress Catherine.

This film is Sternberg's most sumptuous stylistic exercise: an intricately woven tapestry of tyranny. Not even Stroheim or Lubitsch could have surpassed the grand finale with its trumpets, bells, Dietrich stomping about the palace in hussar's outfit, and "The Ride of the Valkyries" on the sound track.

See also...

THE SAGA OF ANATAHAN

Japan, 1953
Sternberg's last film, made independently in Japan, is based on an actual incident and tells of fifteen soldiers and one Japanese girl marooned on a volcanic island in the Pacific for seven years, re… More »

SHANGHAI EXPRESS

USA, 1932
On a train journey from Peiping to Shanghai, Shanghai Lily, notorious white prostitute, meets an old flame, Captain Harvey. The train is stopped by revolutionists led by Chang, and Harvey is held as … More »

MOROCCO

USA, 1930
Dietrich's first American film was a highly romantic farrago about a singer in a Moroccan cafe, the wealthy hedonist who loves her and the Legionnaire whom she finally decides to follow into the dese… More »

THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE

France, 1977
Luis Bunuel's new film takes the story-line of a French nineteenth century novel by Pierre Louys. The story has been filmed before in 1929 by Jacques de Baroncelh. It was filmed again by Josef von St… More »

THE LAST COMMAND

USA, 1928
Print courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Paramount and CIC. ... General Dolgorucki is first seen as a quivering recluse, hiding in a rented room in Hollywood and struggling against old a… More »

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