Rasputin and the Empress (1932)

Passed  |   |  Drama, History  |  24 March 1933 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 528 users  
Reviews: 21 user | 12 critic

A prince plots to kill the mad monk Rasputin for the good of the czar, the czarina and Russia.


(as Richard Boleslavsky) , (uncredited)


(screen play)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Tad Alexander ...
The Czarevitch
Prince Chegodieff
Diana Wynyard ...
C. Henry Gordon ...
Grand Duke Igor
Doctor Remezov
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Adrienne Marden ...
(as Mabel Marden)
Clarence Wilson ...
(scenes deleted)


As Europe looms on the edge of war in 1913, the family and members of the court of the Russian czar Nicholas come under the sway of a mysterious mystic named Rasputin. When Rasputin miraculously appears to cure the czar's son Alyosha of his hemophilia, the monk's reputation is cemented, particularly in the mind of the princess Natasha. Natasha's fiancé (and, later, husband) Prince Paul Chegodieff, however, suspects Rasputin is a charlatan who will cause the downfall of the royal family and perhaps of Russia itself. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Beautiful girls who came to pray! Caught in the web of debauched Rasputin, whose crafty mind toppled a throne!


Drama | History


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

24 March 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Dämon Rußlands - Rasputin  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The model for the character of Princess Natasha in the movie was Princess Irina Romanoff Youssoupoff. She filed a lawsuit against Thalberg and MGM, claiming invasion of privacy and libel in portraying her as a mistress and, later, a rape victim of Grigory Rasputin. She won an award of $127,373 in an English court and an out-of-court settlement in New York with MGM, reportedly $1 million. As a result of the success of Princess Youssoupoff's lawsuit against MGM over this movie, Hollywood studios began inserting the disclaimer "This motion picture is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental" in the credits of virtually every film released since. See more »


On the bulletin about the Zsarevitch's situation he is named by his real name in Russian but in the English translation he is simply called "Tsarevitch" See more »


Rasputin: Whose in charge of the boy, you or me?
German-Language Teacher: I am in charge of his highness' German lessons.
Rasputin: Clear out!
German-Language Teacher: I shall report this to her Majesty.
Rasputin: Get out, you kraut-head! You dried up sausage!
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: John Barrymore (1962) See more »


Russian National Anthem
Composer unknown
Played during the opening credits and at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

A powerful tale of tragedy
10 March 2008 | by (Waukegan, IL.) – See all my reviews

By now, everyone - but everyone - has commented on what bad history this movie is. Fine, I won't argue the point. But, what about it as drama? In my opinion, this is one of the most powerful tales of tragedy of it's time. ( This is particularly noteworthy given MGM's later penchant for frivolousness. ) Part of it has do do with the sincerity and conviction of the story. [ Alhough Charles MacArtur and others are given credit for the screenplay, I believe the original story - I have read a copy of the book - was written by a Russian émigré who fled the revolution. Unfortunately, I am presently unable to locate my copy. ] Nonetheless, this would go a long way towards explaining the movie's passion.

As for the acting; it features an outstanding cast, including the three Barrymores, as well as an assemblage of first rate supporting actors of the time. ( Anyone notice Edwarld Arnold as Dr. Remezov? ) Of course, much of it seems dated by today's standards. ( This was 1932, after all. ) Keep in mind that this is high melodrama. In that context, Lionel Barrymore exudes pure evil as the scheming, mad monk. He also brings out the crudity and vulgarity of the man, which generally jibes with historical accounts. Just try not to dwell on the fake beard.

John is fine and properly earnest as Prince Chegodieff, although his performance does seem a bit old-fashioned next to Lionel's. He really lets it all hang out in the murder scene, however. Ethel seems a trifle stiff, but Ralph Morgan is just right as Nicholas. In fact, sincerity and seriousness of purpose seem to be the hallmarks of the entire ensemble. And through it all, there is this sense of tragic inevitability; of events that, once set in motion, cannot be reversed.

One other thing that warrants a mention is the music. The Russian Orthodox liturgical music used in the celebratory scene near the beginning is moving and powerful. It could well put one in mind of the the wedding scene in Michael Cimino's "The Deer Hunter" ( 1978 ). Later, there is a medley of martial music, accompanied by historical footage, as Russia mobilizes for The Great War. Here we hear "God Save the Tsar", a tune which Mikhail Glinka featured in his opera, "A Life for the Tsar", but which was routinely banned during Soviet performances. All in all, exciting stuff.

This is a movie well worth watching, historical accuracy notwithstanding.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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