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Erich von Stroheim
Sam De Grasse,
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Prince Wolfram is the betrothed of mad Queen Regina V of Kronberg. Supreme ruler, her word is law and he is a playboy. On maneuvers as punishment for partying with other women, he sees Kelly walking the the other students of a convent. He is intrigued by her beauty and wants her. He kidnaps her that night from the convent and takes her to his room and professes his love for her. When the Queen finds them together the next morning , she whips Kelly and throws her out of the castle. Regina then puts Wolfram into prison for not wanting to marry the Queen. Kelly goes to German East Africa to visit her dying Aunt and is forced to marry the disgusting Jan. The Aunt dies after the wedding and Kelly refuses to live with Jan and becomes the head of Aunties Brothel. Her extravagances and style earn her the name 'Queen Kelly' and Prince Wolfram does not marry Queen Regina V. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
I think it's safe to say that von Stroheim's directing career was over when Gloria Swanson threw him a bone to direct this picture, which was originally intended to be a five-hour epic. Soon, as was always the case with the director, the thing was way over budget, he was fired and the film was never completed, although a few years later Swanson went back and filmed an alternate ending, which is included on the DVD. The film, as presented on the DVD, runs around 100-minutes and I'd say about ten-minutes are made up from stills and title cards explaining the missing footage.
The film tells the story of Kitty Kelly (Swanson), a convent girl who gets swept off her feet by Prince Wolfram (Walter Byron) but she does know that he's set to marry Queen Regina (Seena Owen) the following day. Kelly runs away in shame and finds herself in South Africa where her dying aunt turns over her brothel, which Kelly will now run. The love at first site plot isn't the most original out there but von Stroheim adds enough weirdness that makes this film worth sitting through. You can tell that this was meant to be an epic because of the 90-minutes worth of footage the first seventy-minutes are pretty much dealing with the love story. I'm guessing Kelly's rise in the brothel was originally meant to be much longer than what's shown here but I guess we'll never know as the footage is long gone and what stills are available really don't tell us too much. There are many flaws in this film but for the most part I found it very enjoyable. I thought the opening fifteen-minutes were a tad bit stiff but things really start to heat up around the thirty-minute mark. The sadistic side of von Stroheim comes through when the Queen learns that her man has been unfaithful and the whipping sequence she puts on Kelly is marvelously done and is without question one of the most beautiful shots in the director's career. You can also easily see where the budget went and the incredibly banquet scene is just a real beauty on the eyes. Swanson turns in a very good performance as she perfectly captures the spirit of the young, naive girl, although at the same time she's way too old for the part. I thought she handled the role very nicely but we never really get to see her as the brothel queen. Both Byron and especially Owen eat up their scenes and help keep the film moving. As is, QUEEN KELLY is certainly flawed but it's hard to judge the film too much simply because most of it is incomplete. The "Swanson" ending that's included on the DVD really doesn't work either so in the end we're just left with a "what if..." situation.
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