GLORIA SWANSON | QUEEN KELLY (1929) Oversized portrait by Ernest Bachrach


[Los Angeles]: United Artists, [1929]. Vintage original 11 x 14″ (28 x 35 cm.) black-and-white double weight glossy silver gelatin photo. Minor crease at top right corner. Blind stamp of Ernest A. Bachrach at bottom right corner. “Gloria Swanson in QUEEN KELLY, Directed by Erich von Stroheim, United Artists Picture” ink stamped on verso. Fine.

A supremely rare portrait, not readily available in any format. So entrenched in Erich von Stroheim’s wasteful production excesses that the film could never be finished, it is one of the truly legendary aborted films. Not even the wealth of Joseph P. Kennedy and Gloria Swanson’s star power could save this ruinous debauchery.

Fortunately, much of what was filmed was saved and Swanson was able to cobble together some semblance of a story and release a version of the silent film in 1932, several years after talkies had made their mark. Full of story details and imagery that could only be released prior to the stringent 1934 Code, a bit of the extravagant budget was recouped though only released in Europe and South Africa. An alternate ending had been filmed in 1931.

In 1985 a kind of restoration was produced in which photos depicting some scenes that had gone into production telling the story’s original ending were added. The film is immortalized in footage shown in the private screening room of Norma Desmond’s mansion in the 1950 film Sunset Boulevard.

Share With Friends: