Review

  • Elisabeth Bergner is a great actress and always lovable, but she is not convincing as Catherine the Great - she is too lovable for that, and an Austrian at that, while Marlene Dietrich in Sternberg's "The Scarlet Empress" of the same year was more appropriate and more convincing as a Prussian princess. On the other hand, Douglas Fairbanks Jr makes perhaps the most interesting Peter III on screen, showing nuances and possibilities that usually are ignored in all those other Catherine films. Flora Robson is perfect as usual in one of those many roles of queens and empresses that suited her perfectly. The direction by Paul Czinner (also from Austria) is very meticulous and carefully planned in well considered dramaturgy, so there is nothing wrong with this excellent costume film of the early thirties, although Marlene Dietrich's and von Sternberg's version is more stylistic and impressing in more artistic liberty. Paul Czinner went on with Elisabeth Bergner in Shakespeare's "As You Like It", a triumph of Shakespeare in Hollywood, and then to ballet films and opera films, in which he constantly surpassed himself.