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HISTORY

Catherine the Great was also reviewed under the title The Rise of Catherine the Great . Although onscreen credits list Griffith Jones in the role of "Grigory Orlov," several contemporary reviews credit Clifford Jones with the role. The film's pressbook, in the copyright file, credits Marjorie Deans and Arthur Wimperis with the scenario and continuity. According to the copyright entry, the film was "based on events in the life of Catherine II, Empress of Russia." According to Var , the budget for Catherine the Great was $400,000, and a similar picture made in Hollywood would have required spending over $1,000,000. Catherine the Great was advertised as the successor to the popular Alexander Korda production of the previous year, The Private Life of Henry VIII (see below), which also dealt with the personal life of royalty. According to modern sources, because Catherine the Great was released at nearly the same time as The Scarlet Empress (see below), also based on the life of Catherine the Great, the Korda film did not live up to expectations of box-office success, grossing about £350,000.
       Modern sources note that Bernard Browne was camera operator along with Robert LaPresle, and that Robert Krasker was assistant camera operator. Despite contract obligations, Korda insisted on directing and reshooting many scenes himself, including most of those with Flora Robson, as well as those with Diana Napier, according to a modern interview with Napier. The Lajos Biro-Melchior Lengyel play on which Catherine the Great was based had also been the source for Forbidden Paradise (1924), starring Pola Negri ... More Less

Catherine the Great was also reviewed under the title The Rise of Catherine the Great . Although onscreen credits list Griffith Jones in the role of "Grigory Orlov," several contemporary reviews credit Clifford Jones with the role. The film's pressbook, in the copyright file, credits Marjorie Deans and Arthur Wimperis with the scenario and continuity. According to the copyright entry, the film was "based on events in the life of Catherine II, Empress of Russia." According to Var , the budget for Catherine the Great was $400,000, and a similar picture made in Hollywood would have required spending over $1,000,000. Catherine the Great was advertised as the successor to the popular Alexander Korda production of the previous year, The Private Life of Henry VIII (see below), which also dealt with the personal life of royalty. According to modern sources, because Catherine the Great was released at nearly the same time as The Scarlet Empress (see below), also based on the life of Catherine the Great, the Korda film did not live up to expectations of box-office success, grossing about £350,000.
       Modern sources note that Bernard Browne was camera operator along with Robert LaPresle, and that Robert Krasker was assistant camera operator. Despite contract obligations, Korda insisted on directing and reshooting many scenes himself, including most of those with Flora Robson, as well as those with Diana Napier, according to a modern interview with Napier. The Lajos Biro-Melchior Lengyel play on which Catherine the Great was based had also been the source for Forbidden Paradise (1924), starring Pola Negri and directed by Ernst Lubitsch (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ). The 1945 Fox film A Royal Scandal , directed by Lubitsch and Otto Preminger and starring Tallulah Bankhead was also based on the play. For additional information about the films based on Catherine the Great, see the entry for The Scarlet Empress . More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
2 Feb 34
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Feb 34
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
10 Feb 34
pp. 43-44.
New York Times
15 Feb 34
p. 15.
Newsweek
24 Feb 34
p. 34.
Variety
30 Jan 34
p. 12.
Variety
20 Feb 34
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Korda-Toeplitz Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story, dial & cont
Story, dial & cont
Story, dial & cont
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Settings
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
SET DECORATOR
Architect
MUSIC
Mus comp
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the Hungarian play A carno (The Czarina) by Lajos Biro and Melchior Lengyel (1912).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Rise of Catherine the Great
Release Date:
16 March 1934
Copyright Claimant:
London Film Productions, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
1 May 1934
Copyright Number:
LP4720
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
91-92 or 94
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Russia in the year 1745, Grand Duke Peter, the profligate heir to the throne, angrily learns that he is to be wed. Peter despises his shameless aunt, the vain Empress Elizabeth, who has given the order for his marriage. Peter's bride-to be, the young and diminutive German Princess Anhalt-Zerbst, must change her name and religion to be an acceptable bride. Elizabeth renames her "Catherine," but Peter refuses to comply with the marriage order and insults Elizabeth. Catherine, mistaking Peter for an officer, charms him, and he quickly changes his mind, but just before the wedding becomes suspicious that he was tricked into the marriage. As a result, Peter spends his wedding night with another woman. Later, Catherine carefully inspects her husband's guard in the company of Colonel Karnilov. She tells Peter that she has had 17 lovers over the past two years, but Elizabeth recognizes this as a ruse to make her inattentive husband jealous. Under Peter's questioning, Catherine describes her affairs, then tells the truth, and she and Peter are united at last. Elizabeth, now ill and aging, knows Russia will be safe when Catherine says she would respond to a revolt by sending food, then hanging her ministers instead of the people. As Elizabeth dies, Peter, once ignored and now the center of attention, gradually goes mad and plans to reverse her legacy. Catherine is urged to take over as Peter promulgates decrees banning women from the throne and searching for a mysterious, unknown ordinary soldier. Catherine is banished to a distant wing of the palace, and is humiliated before Peter's new favorite, the Countess Vorontzova. Grigory Orlov, ... +


In Russia in the year 1745, Grand Duke Peter, the profligate heir to the throne, angrily learns that he is to be wed. Peter despises his shameless aunt, the vain Empress Elizabeth, who has given the order for his marriage. Peter's bride-to be, the young and diminutive German Princess Anhalt-Zerbst, must change her name and religion to be an acceptable bride. Elizabeth renames her "Catherine," but Peter refuses to comply with the marriage order and insults Elizabeth. Catherine, mistaking Peter for an officer, charms him, and he quickly changes his mind, but just before the wedding becomes suspicious that he was tricked into the marriage. As a result, Peter spends his wedding night with another woman. Later, Catherine carefully inspects her husband's guard in the company of Colonel Karnilov. She tells Peter that she has had 17 lovers over the past two years, but Elizabeth recognizes this as a ruse to make her inattentive husband jealous. Under Peter's questioning, Catherine describes her affairs, then tells the truth, and she and Peter are united at last. Elizabeth, now ill and aging, knows Russia will be safe when Catherine says she would respond to a revolt by sending food, then hanging her ministers instead of the people. As Elizabeth dies, Peter, once ignored and now the center of attention, gradually goes mad and plans to reverse her legacy. Catherine is urged to take over as Peter promulgates decrees banning women from the throne and searching for a mysterious, unknown ordinary soldier. Catherine is banished to a distant wing of the palace, and is humiliated before Peter's new favorite, the Countess Vorontzova. Grigory Orlov, an officer who loves Catherine, informs her of rival coups that are planned and urges her to take the throne. Finally she agrees, and Peter is arrested and sent away. The people cheer Catherine, but Orlov informs her that Peter has been killed, and that this was the price she must pay for power. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.