Josef von Sternberg

The Scarlet Empress

The Scarlet Empress

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.

Film Info

Available In

Collector's Set

Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

Blu-Ray Box Set

6 Discs

Ships Jul 3, 2018

$99.96

Collector's Set

Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

DVD Box Set

6 Discs

Ships Jul 3, 2018

$99.96

The Scarlet Empress
Cast
Marlene Dietrich
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
Grigory Orlov
Olive Tell
Princess Johanna
Ruthelma Stevens
Countess Elizabeth
Erville Alderson
Chancellor Bestuchef
Davison Clark
Archimandrite Simeon Tevedovsky
Credits
Director
Josef von Sternberg
Screenplay by
Eleanor McGeary
Based on the diary of Catherine II, as arranged by
Manual Komroff
Produced by
Adolf Zukor
Photographed by
Bert Glennon
Edited by
Josef von Sternberg
Edited by
Sam Winston
Art direction by
Hans Dreier
Art direction by
Peter Ballbusch
Art direction by
Richard Kollorsz
Costume design by
Travis Banton
Music arranged by
W. Franke Harling
Music arranged by
John Leipold
Music arranged by
Josef von Sternberg
Special effects by
Gordon Jennings

From The Current

Keegan McHargue’s Top 10

Keegan McHargue is a painter whose work has been exhibited throughout the world and draws on many facets of culture, with a particular affinity for film.


Sep 30, 2013
Josef von Sternberg, Original Auteur

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 work, including his elusive final film, The Saga of An…


Dec 27, 2009

Feb 13, 2009
The Scarlet Empress

By Robin Wood

On Film / Essays — May 8, 2001

Explore

Hans Dreier

Art Director

One of the most prolific film artists in Hollywood history, the German-born art director Hans Dreier worked on more than five hundred films from 1919 to 1951, amassing twenty-three Academy Award nominations and three Oscars. A student of engineering and architecture, Dreier began his career as an architect for the German government before being hired to design sets for UFA, the home of the German film industry, during the silent era. Like many of his moviemaking countrymen, Dreier eventually moved to Los Angeles, bringing with him all the expressionist tools of his trade—dramatically exaggerated spaces and chiaroscuro—and working closely with cinematographers like Victor Milner and such directors as Josef von Sternberg and Ernst Lubitsch to create vivid visual experiences. Dreier’s astonishingly vast and varied body of work extends from the intense, romantic shadows of early von Sternberg to the psychological grit of Anthony Mann’s American West, with many lighthearted pit stops in between, from Lubitsch's Ruritanian comic-musical landscapes to Preston Sturges’ just-off-center, whacked-out Americana.