Twenty years ago, British newspaper The Sunday Times ran a series over eight weeks to celebrate the 100th birthday of…
The Rise of Catherine the Great
In 1745 a German princess, renamed Catherine, arrives to marry Grand Duke Peter of Russia, whom she initially likes. But his suspicious, unstable nature gradually estranges them, and Peter finds solace with pretty courtiers. Catherine invents her own (fictitious) lovers, temporarily improving matters. Alas, accession to the throne brings out the worst in Peter, and loyal Catherine is urged to assume power.
A fairly uneven telling of the rise to power of Catherine The Great. Unlike The Private Life Of Henry VIII, the balance between historical drama and comedy just doesn't quite gel... The humour is often very funny, but it grates badly against the rather wooden acting and earnest writing of many of the dramatic scenes.
Paul Czinner's THE RISE OF CATHERINE THE GREAT is a sumptuous drama about Catherine's marriage to the emperor of Russia and her eventual ascendency to the throne. While the film suffers at times from too much silence in between edits (a problem in many early talkies), the cinematography is outstanding and serves to constantly show Catherine's isolation from her husband. A surprisingly progressive story about a woman taking leadership from her incompetent husband, it's a compelling film from cinema's early years.
i like the elegange and the costumes
A British production about the power struggles between Peter III of Russia and his wife Catherine the Great with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Elisabeth Bergner in the roles. Can't say I was swept off my feet by this one. Dull and not enough ruthlessness. I quite liked Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in this and the costumes and sets where as elegant they could be, but the story just never gets as interesting as it should have been for a royal struggle. Plus in a way Bergner never won me over as someone who could be powerful. Sure, sweet and pretty, but not strong enough to be seen as someone who'd put up much of a fight for power. So only a mild appreciation with this film from me.
My review for my Criterion blog: www.criterionconfessions.com/2012/11/private-lives-of-alexander-korda-rise.html
The movie itself if of course set in his time, do not expect a modern historical drama. It's a child of the 30's for all it's qualities and what not. While not as interesting as The Private Life Of Henry The VII, the story is still interesting. The acting is where I had more problem with this one. Douglas Fairbanks Jr is very good in the role of Grand Dule Peter. Where I had a problem (which does not help since it's the main character of the story) was with Elisabeth Bergner as Catherine. For me she was not very convincing and she seem for most of the movie as badly cast, she just does not fit as Catherine The…
Sorry, Alexander Korda. This just wasn't good enough.
Over two thirds of the movie went by before Catherine became the main character in a film dedicated to her name (and thank Heaven for that, because she is unbearable). Overwhelming pathos in every scene. One of the dullest costume dramas I've ever watched, not even Douglas Fairbanks Jr. could brighten this up.
Updated on 9/17/2016 - A list, arranged in order of original release, of all films associated with the Criterion Collection,…