The drama and characters in this movie about "Catherine the Great" are generally pretty good, although often non-historical, and the atmosphere is often quite good. The settings and many of the details were crafted with care, and apparently with ample resources available.
Elisabeth Bergner often gives distinctive, sometimes unusual portrayals of her characters, and this is no exception. Yet Catherine was such a complex figure that it's almost a moot point as to how accurate Bergner's portrayal may be, especially since the story here is mostly concerned about her younger days, before she became Empress. Bergner definitely makes Catherine interesting and worth caring about.
The story itself is interesting, and though it should not be viewed as accurate history, as a movie it works well enough, and sometimes it works quite well. As Peter, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. gives his character a nature that is probably quite different from the historical Peter, but in itself it is a believable and effective portrayal.
The story of the ongoing intrigues involving Peter, Catherine, Elizabeth (a well-cast Flora Robson), and others, has some good moments. The historical situation was complicated, and it lends itself easily to a movie adaptation. The settings work well in conveying both the historical period and also the atmosphere of plots and counter-plots. The movie as a whole was overshadowed, even in its own time, by other features on the same subject, but it is still a good effort that is worth watching.
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