Paul Czinner

The Rise of Catherine the Great

The Rise of Catherine the Great

A quick-witted and compelling dramatization of the troubled marriage of Catherine II (played by German actress Elisabeth Bergner, in her English-language debut) to Peter III (a randy Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) and her subsequent ascension to the throne as Empress of Russia. With its luxurious renderings of the eighteenth-century St. Petersburg royal court and its nearly screwball evocation of Catherine and Peter’s teasing relationship, The Rise of Catherine the Great was a wise and worthy follow-up to Henry VIII.

Film Info

  • United Kingdom
  • 1934
  • 95 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.33:1
  • English

Available In

Collector's Set

Eclipse Series 16: Alexander Korda’s Private Lives

Alexander Korda’s Private Lives

DVD Box Set

4 Discs


Out Of Print
The Rise of Catherine the Great
Elisabeth Bergner
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Grand Duke Peter
Flora Robson
Empress Elisabeth
Gerald du Maurier
Irene Vanbrugh
Princess Anhalt-Zerbst
Joan Gardner
Diana Napier
Countess Vorontzova
Paul Czinner
Story, dialogue, and continuity
Lajos Biro
Story, dialogue, and continuity
Arthur Wimperis
Story, dialogue, and continuity
Melchior Lengyel
Georges Périnal
Supervising editor
Harold Young
Stephen Harrison
Settings designed by
Vincent Korda
Musical direction
Muir Matheson
John Armstrong



The Kordas

Producer, Production Designer

The Kordas
The Kordas

During sound cinema’s first full decade, the Hungarian-born Korda brothers—Alexander, Zoltán, and Vincent—built a British empire. The mastermind behind their legendary company, London Films Productions, was producer, director, writer, and eventual mega-mogul Alex; born Sándor Kellner, he became interested in the art of silent cinema as a teenager in his home country, writing criticism and even founding a movie magazine before finding success making his own films all over Europe. In the late twenties, following a short stint in Hollywood, Alex was sent to England to head up Paramount’s British Production Unit; in 1932, he established London Films and brought aboard his younger siblings, Zoltán as a writer/director and Vincent as a production designer. Their first big hit was The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), which earned Charles Laughton an Oscar and the Kordas international attention. The rest of the thirties held highs (The Rise of Catherine the Great, Elephant Boy) and lows (The Private Life of Don Juan) for the company. But its films—often about historical personalities (Rembrandt) or the exploits of the British Empire abroad (Sanders of the River, The Four Feathers)—remain exemplars of a grand period of British cinema. In the forties, the Kordas only grew in stature—due not only to such immensely popular titles as The Thief of Bagdad and That Hamilton Woman but also to the selection of Alexander, the first film director to be so honored, for knighthood.