Skip to main content


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...


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 »


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 ... More »


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 ... More »


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 ... More »


Poto and Cabengo are the names two identical twin sisters have given each other as part of a complex private language they have invented, and this film by Jean-Pierre Gorin documents the phenomenon ... More »

Sense of the City

An evocation of the spirit of New York as seen through the eyes of poets whom it has inspired. ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director