The Scarlet Empress Film Still

The Scarlet Empress

Josef von Sternberg

 
  • United States
  • 1934
  • 104 minutes
  • Black and White
  • 1.33:1
  • English
  •  
  • Spine #109

Marlene Dietrich stars in Josef von Sternberg’s feverishly debauched biopic as the spoiled princess Sophia Frederica, who grows up being groomed for greatness and yearning for a handsome husband. Sent to Russia to marry the Grand Duke Peter, she is horrified to discover that her betrothed is a half-wit and her new home a macabre palace where depravity rules. Before long, however, she is initiated into the sadistic power politics that govern the court, paving the way for her transformation into the imperious libertine Catherine the Great. A lavish spectacle in which von Sternberg’s domineering visual genius reaches new heights of florid extravagance, The Scarlet Empress is a perversely erotic portrait of a woman—and a movie star—capable of bringing legions to heel.

Cast

Sophia Frederica/Catherine IIMarlene Dietrich
Count AlexeiJohn Lodge
Grand Duke PeterSam Jaffe
Empress Elizabeth PetrovnaLouise Dresser
Prince August C. Aubrey Smith
Grigory OrlovGavin Gordon
Princess JohannaOlive Tell
Countess ElizabethRuthelma Stevens
Chancellor BestuchefErville Alderson
Archimandrite Simeon TevedovskyDavison Clark

Credits

DirectorJosef von Sternberg
Screenplay byEleanor McGeary
Based on the diary of Catherine II, as arranged byManual Komroff
Produced byAdolf Zukor
Photographed byBert Glennon
Edited byJosef von Sternberg and Sam Winston
Art direction byHans Dreier, Peter Ballbusch and Richard Kollorsz
Costume design byTravis Banton
Music arranged byW. Franke Harling, John Leipold and Josef von Sternberg
Special effects byGordon Jennings

Film Essays

The Scarlet Empress

By Robin Wood May 07, 2001

The Scarlet Empress was the sixth of Josef von Sternberg’s seven collaborations with Marlene Dietrich, and its box-office failure marked the beginning of the end. In retrospect, it is easy to . . . Read more »

Photo Galleries


Clippings

Josef von Sternberg, Original Auteur

December 27, 2009

London’s BFI Southbank will be celebrating Viennese-born visionary Josef von Sternberg in a five-film program, running December 27–30 and featuring some rarities from the director’s body of . . . Read more »


Film Essays

The Scarlet Empress

By Robin Wood May 07, 2001

The Scarlet Empress was the sixth of Josef von Sternberg’s seven collaborations with Marlene Dietrich, and its box-office failure marked the beginning of the end. In retrospect, it is easy to . . . Read more »

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