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109 -The Scarlet Empress


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#1 Lawrence

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 12:47 PM

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THE SCARLET EMPRESS
Josef von Sternberg

United States • 1934 • 104 minutes • Black and White • 1.33:1 • English
Filmmaker-svengali Josef 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. 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


DISC FEATURES

  • Luminous new digital transfer, with restored image and sound
  • The 20-minute BBC documentary The World of Josef von Sternberg
  • Production stills and lobby cards
  • Von Sternberg tribute by underground filmmaker Jack Smith
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
  • Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition


#2 Lawrence

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 12:49 PM

NOTES:


#3 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 05:47 PM

I liked The World of Josef von Sternberg, not sure if I would want to work with him though. He is a bit of a cantankerous, cranky ol geezer (American version) that is full of hubris. I love the moment where he scares the documentary film crew and they just about drop the camera as they back up. I do not think I’ve seen a director affect a camera person like that before.

The film itself is quite wonderful with the acting as the big faults with the film (naïve Dietrich is quite bad, experienced Dietrich is quite good). Louise Dresser's performance as Empress Elizabeth Petrovna is by far the most stereotypical of 30s "bad" acting with her forced vocal tones and flailing arms. Sam Jaffe's performance as the Grand Duke Peter (in his first movie performance) was seemed influenced by Harpo Marx mixed with even more sexual dysfunction (and talking).

The sets are some of the most grotesque (with expressionistic fervor) I have ever seen and steal the movie. I have lent this out to one person just to view the sets.

How did this film make it past the Hays office? The montage towards the beginning is actually quite good with its violence and nudity (I love the mad chopping off with heads scene though the human clapper is quite iconic).

The source material for this film is not good leaving a mediocre print. Does better prints exist?
Under Construction:
My Criterion Collection (408; I Own and Have Watched):
1-16, 18, 19, 20, 21(2nd), 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51(1st & 2nd), 52, 52, 53, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86. 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151(1st), 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 177, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 226, 227, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 237, 239, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 260, 263, 266, 267, 268, 271, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 297, 298, 300(2D), 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 335, 336, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, 353, 354, 357, 358, 359, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 378, 379, 380, 383, 385, 386, 387, 388, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 402, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 424, 425, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 437, 439, 441, 445, 446, 447, 448, 451, 453, 455, 456, 457, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 470, 475, 476, 478, 481, 482, 487, 490, 497, 498, 499, 500, 501, 503, 505, 512, 524, 525, 526, 528, 529, 530, 531, 539, 540, 543, 556, 565, 572, 578, 579, 580, 586, 596, 650, 664, 677

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Eclipse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 23, 26, 33

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