THE SCARLET EMPRESS

Director Josef von Sternberg
Year 1934
Starring Marlene Dietrich, John Lodge, Sam Jaffe, C. Aubrey Smith, Louise Dresser
Run Time 104min
More Info IMDb

Screening in 35mm as part of the series DIETRICH & VON STERNBERG!

An actor-director match made in Hollywood heaven: Josef von Sternberg found the perfect muse for his sumptuous experiments in lighting and mise-en-scène in the glamorous Marlene Dietrich. Their seven films together “constitute one of the most dazzling runs of creativity in the history of the movies” (Dave Kehr, The New York Times).

Filmmaker-svengali von Sternberg escalates his obsession with screen legend Marlene Dietrich in this lavish depiction of sex and deceit in the eighteenth-century Russian court. A self-proclaimed “relentless excursion into style,” the pair’s sixth collaboration follows the exploits of Princess Sophia (Dietrich) as she evolves from trembling innocent to cunning sexual libertine Catherine the Great. The film was released just prior to the enforcement of the Hays Code and escaped censorship despite its erotic images and motifs. With operatic melodrama, flamboyant visuals, and a cast of thousands, this ornate spectacle represents the apex of cinematic pageantry by Hollywood’s master of artifice.

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