The movie chronicles the events of history's "man of mystery", Rasputin. Although not quite historically accurate, and little emphasis is put on the politics of the day, Rasputin's rise to ... See full summary »
An honest and naive schoolteacher gets a lesson in how the world works outside the classroom, when a rich Baron and his mistress use the teacher's name and outstanding reputation in a ... See full summary »
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Upon its premiere "Rasputin and the Empress" ran approximately 132 minutes. Due to the famous lawsuits against it, a number of scenes had to be cut for legal reasons. One critical scene that was deleted was one which implied that Rasputin had raped Diana Wynyard's character of "Princess Natascha". The removal of this scene tended to make the character of Princess Natascha somewhat incomprehensible - initially she is a supporter of Rasputin; in the latter part of the film she is very afraid of him. Unless the viewer is aware of the cuts made in the film, there does not appear to be any explanation for the change in Princess Natascha toward Rasputin. See more »
The only film featuring all three Barrymores preserves an acting style that was once considered top-line and now looks rather over-emphatic. Certainly Lionel is the biggest ham, looking like Alec Guinness in "Oliver Twist" and rolling his eyes, laughing maniacally, and all but twirling his cape as the contemptible, going-mad Rasputin. By contrast, Ethel is stately as the Empress Alexandra, but also rather uninteresting, mainly emphasizing womanly dignity and reserve, as she so often did. Often she and Diana Wynyard seem to be in a contest to see who can employ a more highfalutin pronunciation style. So it falls to John to give the best performance: He's comparatively naturalistic and understated, and seems most comfortable in front of a camera. The director, Richard Boleslawski, goes in for needlessly arty compositions and drags out the playing time, and Herbert Stothart, the composer, seems the hardest worker: so much Russian-cliché music, and so loud. Charles MacArthur's screenplay is literate but wordy and inaccurate (and resulted in an expensive lawsuit against MGM). But as a distillation of the Barrymore acting style in miniature, it's a valuable artifact, and pretty entertaining on its own terms.
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