Queen Kelly (1929)

Passed  |   |  Drama  |  1 January 1929 (USA)
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Reviews: 20 user | 16 critic

A convent girl is abducted and seduced by a prince before being sent off to a brothel in East Africa.


(as Erich Von Stroheim) , (uncredited) , 3 more credits »


(based on an original story by) (as Erich Von Stroheim) , (titles) (as Marion Ainslee) , 3 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Kitty Kelly / Queen Kelly
Walter Byron ...
Prince Wolfram
Queen Regina V


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 <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

1 January 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Swamp  »

Box Office


$800,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(1985 restored) | (Swanson Version)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric System)|
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Did You Know?


After shooting only one-third of the picture (four hours), director Erich von Stroheim was fired by producer-star Gloria Swanson. Two years later, additional footage was shot to complete the picture. Since von Stroheim owned part of the property, he refused to grant releasing rights in the U.S. and elsewhere for this bastardized version. It was not exhibited in the U.S. until after Sunset Blvd. (1950), when it received minor theatrical release and a showing on television in 1966. See more »


The positions of the two different groups, the troops and the convent girls, are constantly changing in relation to the shrine on Kambach road. See more »


[as Wolfram and Fritz are racing their horses down the street]
Girl 1: Come on, Wild Wolfram! I've bet my nightie on you!
Girl 2: Come on, Fritz! She hasn't GOT a nightie!
See more »


Featured in Arena: Screen Goddesses (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

Incredible high camp!
5 November 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Erich von Stroheim's infamous final stab at direction (unfinished, when the plug was pulled by producer and star Gloria Swanson) is a sophisticated piece of silent cinema, wrapped in a camp plot and looking fabulous.

Gloria Swanson plays Patricia Kelly, a convent girl who meets the Prince of her dreams ('wild' Wolfram, played by Walter Byron) while she is out with the nuns. After a risqué scene concerning the soldiers and her bloomers, Gloria prays to the Holy Virgin to let her see the Prince again, while the Prince feels trapped in his engagement to the mad Queen Regina (a scene-chewing Seena Owen).

The first half of the film concerns how 'Kelly' and Wolfram come to meet up again, this time in the Palace where the jealous Queen loses no time in whipping Kelly out of doors and roaring that the Prince is 'Mine, MINE, MINE!'. The second half (unfinished) concerns Kelly's fortunes thereafter, called by her dying aunt to Africa where she finds herself in a brothel and betrothed to loathsome cripple drunk Jan Vryheid (a repellent and compelling performance from Tully Marshall), and eventually (and improbably) turns the situation round to get her happy ending, 'Queen Kelly' again.

Gloria Swanson looks absolutely gorgeous in the shimmering black and white close-ups, and her acting as Kelly is impeccable throughout - no one made better use of the 'look of horror' or the 'dipping of eyelashes' or the 'flirty smile'. Walter Byron is a moustachioed hero in the mould of John Gilbert and is an amusing second lead.

With the gaps plugged by wordy slides (in some prints, Kelly becomes Kitty in these explanatory bits, but never mind ...) and still photographs, 'Queen Kelly' is a boisterous and worthy final feature for its director. Many have seen a small bit of this film as part of Norma Desmond's home projections in 'Sunset Boulevard', but try to see the full thing - hugely enjoyable, and if not as mushily romantic as 'The Wedding March', its satirical splendor more than makes up for it!

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