The Scarlet Empress (Catherine the Great)
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The Scarlet Empress (Catherine the Great)
Of the two 1934 film versions of the life of Russia's Catherine the Great, Josef von Sternberg's The Scarlet Empress was the most opulent and exotic. Marlene Dietrich plays the German-born Catherine, who is required to marry Russia's mad Grand Duke Peter (Sam Jaffe, decked out in a Harpo Marx wig). As if her joke of a marriage isn't torment enough, Catherine must endure the excesses of her new mother-in-law, Empress Elizabeth (Louise Dresser). Eventually, Catherine finds solace -- and romance -- in the form of Count Alexei (John Lodge). But even this balm is denied her when the… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Von Sternberg's most realized film that combines a brilliant spectacle of royal pomp and mise-en-scene with Harpo Marx-like silent comedy."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"A thrilling historical pageant, featuring one of the most mind-blowing mises-en-scenes ever created for a film, plus iconic performances by Dietrich, Jaffe, and Dresser."
‑ Nick Davis, Nick's Flick Picks
"a dense, visually astounding portrait of a woman evolving from an innocent, inexperienced, and idealistic girl to a shrewd, calculating empress"
‑ James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk
"It's a complex, poetic, fantastical, and truly great movie."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"Sternberg belongs in the very top ranks of any list of the greatest filmmakers of all time -- and nowhere is this more apparent than here."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"Unhinged and marvelous; it walks a thin line between melodrama and farce."
‑ Jake Euker, F5 (Wichita, KS)
"The filmmaking is invigorating, with some of the images standing out as originals to this day."
‑ Jeremy Heilman,
More reviews for The Scarlet Empress (Catherine the Great) on Rotten Tomatoes