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The Scarlet Empress (1934)

Passed | | Drama, History, Romance | 7 September 1934 (USA)
A German noblewoman enters into a loveless marriage with the dim-witted, unstable heir to the Russian throne, then plots to oust him from power.

Writers:

Catherine II (based on the diary of), Manuel Komroff (diary arranged by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Marlene Dietrich ... Princess Sophia Frederica / Catherine II
John Lodge ... Count Alexei
Sam Jaffe ... Grand Duke Peter
Louise Dresser ... Empress Elizabeth Petrovna
C. Aubrey Smith ... Prince August
Gavin Gordon ... Capt. Gregori Orloff
Olive Tell ... Princess Johanna Elizabeth
Ruthelma Stevens ... Countess Elizabeth 'Lizzie'
Davison Clark Davison Clark ... Archimandrite Simeon Todorsky / Arch-Episcope
Erville Alderson ... Chancelor Alexei Bestuchef
Philip Sleeman Philip Sleeman ... Count Lestoq (as Phillip Sleeman)
Marie Wells Marie Wells ... Marie Tshoglokof
Hans Heinrich von Twardowski ... Ivan Shuvolov (as Hans von Twardowski)
Gerald Fielding Gerald Fielding ... Lt. Dmitri
Maria Riva ... Sophia as a Child (as Maria)
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Storyline

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 <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Reigning Beauty of the Screen!

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 September 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Catherine the Great See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$900,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Empress Elizabeth Petrovna: You wouldn't think that once I had skin like velvet. Empress, bah! I haven't even the power to iron out a single wrinkle. What are you looking at?
[Catherine stares as Peter's drill pokes through the eye of a saint painted on the wall]
Empress Elizabeth Petrovna: That must be Peter. Go and see if it is, and tell him to come here at once.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Stars of the Silver Screen: Marlene Dietrich (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Kamennoi-Ostrow, No. 17
(uncredited)
By Anton Rubinstein
[Adapted by von Sternberg for wedding sequence]
See more »

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User Reviews

One more reason the Golden Age of Hollywood was golden...
18 March 2002 | by R BeckerSee all my reviews

Truly one of the greatest films ever made (see the International Film Critics' Top 100 Films list as well). Dietrich was never more luminous, nor cinematography more gorgeous, than in THE SCARLET EMPRESS. It's in black and white, but you'll feel like it's in full and glorious color. History it's not, but who cares? This is the way things should have been.


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