Young Princess Sophia of Germany is taken to Russia to marry the half-wit Grand Duke Peter, son of the Empress. The domineering Empress hopes to improve the royal blood line. Sophia doesn't like her husband, but she likes Russia, and is very fond of Russian soldiers. She dutifully produces a son -- of questionable fatherhood, but no one seems to mind that. After the old empress dies, Sophia engineers a coup d'etat with the aid of the military, does away with Peter, and becomes Catherine the Great.Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
During production, when director Josef von Sternberg's perfectionist style of film making proved to be too overbearing for Marlene Dietrich, Dietrich and her friend and purported lover, Mercedes de Acosta, hatched a plot to convince the director to abandon his grueling directorial style. In a particularly-frosty period of production, when Dietrich and von Sternberg had not talked to one another off set for three days, de Acosta told Dietrich to fake an injury by falling off of a horse. Dietrich did as her friend asked, toppling from a horse during filming and pretending to be unconscious. De Acosta had supplied a "doctor" for the situation and the doctor rushed to Dietrich's side. The doctor claimed she had passed out from overwork. The incredibly-contrite von Sternberg took it easy on his starlet for the rest of the shoot, and their working relationship was repaired. See more »
Peter's Holstein guard is falsely referred to as Hessian. This may have been deliberate to make use of the bad reputation of Hessian mercenaries in the American Revolutionary War. See more »
......I saw this years ago, but some of the images-Marlene on a swing, the charging horsemen, the bits w/ Sam Jaffe and C Aubrey Smith, most certainly stand out. It was definitely the director's way of putting his worship of Marlene on display for all to see, Catherine might as well have been Cleopatra or Eleanor of Aquitaine for all the historical accuracy-ha ha-they use.
This was a movie about excess as much as anything, curtains that go on forever, huge doors, loud music, etc. They just don't make them like this anymore and certainly couldn't afford to then, either.
I don't think I ever saw Marlene anymore sensual than in this film, and I agree, her idea of playing a 'poor innocent gal'-that isn't put across well at all. Sometimes you just can't fake it, no matter how hard you try.
*** outta ****, style over everything.
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