Vintage original 11 x 14″ (28 x 35 cm.) double weight glossy silver gelatin print still photo, USA. Marlene Dietrich, Sam Jaffe, John Loder, C. Aubrey Smith, Gavin Gordon, dir: Josef von Sternberg; Paramount. There are single pinholes at each of the top corners and the bottom left corner has a tiny nick in it, about fine.

A very lovely portrait of Marlene Dietrich as the young princess for one of film history’s most truly bizarre movies. Double weight, oversized portraits of Dietrich from her von Sternberg films are exceedingly uncommon.

Perhaps this was von 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 von Sternberg (who was by now obsessed) to Dietrich. Dietrich is dressed demurely by Travis Banton.


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