6.4/10
432
13 user 7 critic

The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934)

Straightforward biography of the Russian empress, up to her assumption of the throne.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(story) (as Lajos Biro), (story) | 5 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Grand Duke Peter (as Douglas Fairbanks Jnr.)
...
...
Gerald du Maurier ...
Lecocq
...
Princess Anhalt-Zerbst
...
Katushienka
Dorothy Hale ...
Countess Olga
Diana Napier ...
Countess Vorontzova
...
Gibb McLaughlin ...
Bestujhev (as Gibb Maclaughlin)
Clifford Heatherley ...
Ogarev
Laurence Hanray ...
Goudovitch (as Lawrence Hanray)
Allan Jeayes ...
Colonel Karnilov
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Storyline

In 1745 a German princess, renamed Catherine, arrives to marry Grand Duke Peter of Russia, whom she initially likes. But his suspicious, unstable nature gradually estranges them, and Peter finds solace with pretty courtiers. Catherine invents her own (fictitious) lovers, temporarily improving matters. Alas, accession to the throne brings out the worst in Peter, and loyal Catherine is urged to assume power. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

9 February 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Katharina die Große  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 1937, this film was shown on a double bill with Wives Never Know (1936) in Canada. See more »

Goofs

When the Grand Duke Peter is talking with the guard at the bottom of the stairs about Ivan Ivanovich, the guard's crossed belts on his chest are repositioned when the scene cuts to a close up of the guard. See more »

Crazy Credits

Openng credits prologue: RUSSIA 1745

THE HUNTING LODGE OF GRAND DUKE PETER, HEIR TO THE THRONE. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Suicide of Dorothy Hale (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

 
CATHERINE THE GREAT (Paul Czinner, 1934) ***
2 June 2011 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This is the first of 6 films I intend to watch about the famous Russian sovereign (albeit of German origins) as part of the Josef von Sternberg retrospective, whose masterpiece THE SCARLET EMPRESS – from the same year – also deals with her. It was obviously intended as the British response (through renowned producer Alexander Korda) of the afore-mentioned Paramount release; ironically, the latter had been made – as a vehicle for Marlene Dietrich – in the wake of the classic Greta Garbo title QUEEN Christina (1933)!

Even so, the result here is quite a good film taken on its own merits – though lacking the ornate visual sense and other idiosyncrasies that Sternberg deployed in his version (and which made it so fascinating to watch in the first place). In any case, this has all the virtues and faults of a typical Korda effort: low-key approach undermined by stiff production and buoyed by reliable casting. The latter sees Elizabeth Bergner – the director is her husband – in the title role (though she does well by the character on a human plane, there is little to suggest her 'great' qualities as monarch!), top-billed Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (an ambivalent characterization as he goes all-too-swiftly from being submissive to his Empress aunt through a pre-arranged marriage to tyranny: his is a valiant try, but the star's dashing looks makes this incongruity that more conspicuous!) and Flora Robson (as the ailing Empress who conspires with Catherine to depose her own unstable nephew: the distinguished actress would virtually make a career out of playing monarchs!).

Plot-wise, court intrigue (easily the more interesting aspect to the narrative) is too often swamped by romantic complications and that worst trapping of costumers i.e. archaic dancing…but, having grown up watching the Korda films on Italian TV (even if not among its very best examples, this one is solid enough), I kind of have a soft spot for them and, in fact, over the years I managed to collect virtually all of the more notable titles in that popular cycle (including the same year's THE PRIVATE LIFE OF DON JUAN which, coincidentally, starred Fairbanks pere!). By the way, while this one was originally released in the U.S. as THE RISE OF CATHERINE THE GREAT, it was recently issued on R1 DVD through Criterion's sister label Eclipse as part of a Korda Box Set (along with DON JUAN itself and two superb Charles Laughton vehicles – namely the Oscar-winning THE PRIVATE LIFE OF HENRY VIII {1933} and, arguably his masterpiece, REMBRANDT {1936}).


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