SCARLET EMPRESS, THE (1934) Lobby card


Vintage original 11 x 14″ (28 x 35 cm.) lobby card, USA. Marlene Dietrich, Sam Jaffe, John Loder, C. Aubrey Smith, Gavin Gordon, dir: Josef von Sternberg; Paramount. There are a few scattered pinholes to an otherwise perfect card with vibrant colors, fine.

One of the finest lobby cards for one of film history’s most truly bizarre movies. Perhaps this was Sternberg’s answer for Dietrich to her great competitor Greta Garbo’s Queen Christina. While that film attempted to tell an accurate historical account of a historic queen, this film was a major experiment in style.

The basis was the story of Princess Sophia of Germany who is taken to Russia to marry half-wit Grand Duke Peter (played with aplomb insanity by Jaffe). The Princess is repulsed by him, finds love with a Russian soldier and produces a son. No one asks questions and she moves on to become Catherine the Great. Much of the film was silent and drenched in Gothic sets, set pieces and artifice, shot through diffusions of all kinds and lit in expressionistic ways which have never been duplicated. It became an homage by Sternberg (who was by now obsessed) to Dietrich.

Dietrich is swathed in a fur creation by Travis Banton.

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