• The story of Catherine the Great's rise to power in 18th Century Russia. Von Sternberg covered much of the same ground as Paul Czinner's British biopic, but he had Marlene Dietrich whereas Czinner had only Elisabeth Bergner, who has little of Dietrich's magnetism but at least manages to keep Catherine sympathetic. Douglas Fairbanks Jr gives the film's stand-out performance as the psychologically frail heir apparent (a far different interpretation to Sam Jaffe's in Von Sternberg's picture), although a young Flora Robson is a hoot as his feisty Aunt. A satisfying movie with an unexpectedly downbeat ending which sews the seeds of Catherine's unseen downfall.