The Scarlet Empress 1934

Critics score:
90 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

TIME Magazine: A tedious hyperbole in which Director Josef von Sternberg achieved the improbable feat of burying Marlene Dietrich in a welter of plaster-of-paris gargoyles and galloping cossacks. Read more

Andre Sennwald, New York Times: Running a solid hundred minutes, the film first shocks and stimulates the imagination, and then, lacking the dramatic skill to refresh its audiences, becomes steadily duller. Read more

Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader: Josef von Sternberg's 1934 film turns the legend of Catherine the Great into a study of sexuality sadistically repressed and reborn as politics, thus anticipating Bertolucci by three decades. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: The film tells the story of Catherine the Great as a bizarre visual extravaganza, combining twisted sexuality and bold bawdy humor as if Mel Brooks had collaborated with the Marquis de Sade. Read more

Tony Rayns, Time Out: The decor and costumes, and the mise-en-scene that deploys them, have never been equaled for expressionist intensity. Read more

Variety Staff, Variety: Josef von Sternberg becomes so enamoured of the pomp and flash values that he subjugates everything else to them. That he succeeds as well as he does is a tribute to his artistic genius and his amazingly vital sense of photogenic values. Read more