19 user 1 critic

Specter of the Rose (1946)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir, Music | 5 July 1946 (USA)
Ballet dancer Sanine may have murdered his first wife. A detective thinks so, and he's not the only one. Sanine is charming, if a little peculiar. Haidi, a ballerina, marries him. The ... See full summary »


Ben Hecht


Ben Hecht (original screenplay)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Judith Anderson ... Madame La Sylph
Michael Chekhov ... Max Polikoff
Ivan Kirov Ivan Kirov ... Andre Sanine
Viola Essen Viola Essen ... Haidi
Lionel Stander ... Lionel Gans
Charles 'Red' Marshall Charles 'Red' Marshall ... Specs McFarlan (as Charles Marshall)
George Shdanoff George Shdanoff ... Kropotkin (as George Shadnoff)
Billy Gray Billy Gray ... Jack Jones
Juan Panalle Juan Panalle ... Jibby
Lew Hearn ... Mr. Lyons
Ferike Boros Ferike Boros ... Mamochka
Bert Hanlon Bert Hanlon ... Margolies
Constantine Constantine ... Alexis Bloom
Fred Pollino Fred Pollino ... Giovanni (as Ferdinand Pollina)
Polly Rose Polly Rose ... Olga


Ballet dancer Sanine may have murdered his first wife. A detective thinks so, and he's not the only one. Sanine is charming, if a little peculiar. Haidi, a ballerina, marries him. The company takes its new production on tour. But Sanine's control seems to be slipping... Written by David Steele

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


BEN HECHT'S strange story of the ballet world See more »


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

5 July 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Spectre of the Rose See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Republic Pictures (I) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The only film appearance for dancer Viola Essen. See more »


Andre Sanine: Hug me with your eyes.
Haidi: I am.
Andre Sanine: Harder.
See more »


Referenced in Baryshnikov: Live at Wolf Trap (1976) See more »


Invitation to the Dance
Music by Carl Maria von Weber
See more »

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User Reviews

Dangerous dancing
3 August 2014 | by tomsviewSee all my reviews

"Spector of the Rose" may be overwritten and overwrought, but it also has mood to spare and is strangely haunting.

It was Samuel Goldwyn who said that it is the last five minutes that makes a film memorable, and "Specter of the Rose" has a stunning last five minutes. But the first eighty-five are more problematic.

Haidi Kuznetsova (Viola Essen), a young ballerina in Madame La Sylph's ballet school, is in love with Andre Sanine (Ivan Kirov) a brilliant dancer who is recovering from the death of Nikki, his previous love. La Sylph (Judith Anderson) warns Haidi that Sanine is going insane. He hears music, "Le Spectre de la Rose" that no one else can hear, and probably murdered Nikki - Sanine is an anagram for insane after all. Haidi marries him anyway.

When they embark on a successful ballet tour, Sanine suffers a breakdown. They leave the tour and book into a high-rise hotel. After the exhausted Haidi falls asleep, the internal music overwhelms Sanine. He becomes the Spirit of the Rose and commences to dance armed with a stiletto - "The rose has a thorn". In a truly startling sequence he dances around the apartment like a trapped animal before he takes that Nijinsky-like leap. It's a scene that stays with you.

Writer/director/producer Ben Hecht created an intriguing plot based on two of his earlier short stories, and the famous ballet. Although Judith Anderson's La Sylph is superb, Hecht also created some characters that drag the story down. Michael Chekhov as failed impresario, Max Polikoff and Lionel Stander as failed poet, Lionel Gans, overstay their welcome with ponderous dialogue and lots of it. Gans is also creepily attracted to Haidi.

It shows the dangers facing the auteur. Where another director may have considered some passages of dialogue overripe and jettisoned them, Hecht the director seemed to fall in love with every word Hecht the screenwriter wrote.

There is a whiff of tragedy about the two leads. Both were dancers with theatre backgrounds. This was Kirov's one and only movie and Essen only made one other. In Kirov's case you can see why, he is a pretty strange actor, almost distant, but as one critic noted, his alien presence was perfect for this part. He had a great physique, and the set of jumps (entrechat) he completes just after he first appears is pretty impressive, but his acting was leaden.

Not so Essen. Why a studio didn't grab her is a mystery, she had an unusual beauty, not unlike Pier Angeli or Gail Russell, and like them she died young, but she could act as this film proves.

George Antheil's rippling score sweeps the film along from the opening titles, and although studio bound, the cinematography, often shot at a low angle, is classy.

The film has similarities to the more successful "A Double Life", starring Ronald Coleman. In that film, the actor becomes possessed with his role as Othello. It came out around the same time as "Specter of the Rose" as did "The Red Shoes", but Hecht's film predates them both - did he spark a trend?

"Specter of the Rose" has flaws aplenty, but it also has an indefinable mood that makes it one of the strangest, most intriguing films you are likely to see.

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