The Rise of Catherine the Great

The Rise of Catherine the Great

Paul Czinner (1934)

A Certificate


Our Score
British-based movie mogul Alexander Korda produced this historical saga, hoping it would repeat the transatlantic success of The Private Life of Henry VIII. But it's all rather stuffy and lacks the humour of the previous year's royal romp, possibly because we are dealing with the Russian court which drew the line at tossing drumsticks to the dogs and hacking each other's heads off. The director is Paul Czinner, whose wife, Elisabeth Bergner, plays the tsarina rather glumly, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr is the rakish Grand Duke who quickly goes off his troika. Not a patch on the rival The Scarlet Empress, made the same year with Marlene Dietrich.


Biopic of the Russian empress, following her rise to power. German princess Catherine comes to the royal court of St Petersburg for an arranged marriage to the heir to the throne. Over the course of a tempestuous marriage, she comes to realise that her husband is unfit to rule - meaning the country's only hope is for her to seize power for herself. Starring Elisabeth Bergner and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Cast & Crew

Catherine II Elisabeth Bergner
Grand Duke Peter Douglas Fairbanks Jr
Empress Elizabeth Flora Robson
Lecocq Gerald du Maurier
Princess Anhalt-Zerbst Irene Vanbrugh
Grigory Orlov Griffith Jones
Katuschenka Joan Gardner
Countess Elizabeth Dorothy Hale
Bestujhev Gibb McLaughlin
Ogarev Clifford Heatherley
Goudovitch Lawrence Hanray
Colonel Karnilov Allan Jeayes
Director Paul Czinner
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Other Information

Language: EnglishBlack and whiteTheatrical distributor: United Artists Corp. LtdAvailable on: video