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Rasputin and the Empress (1932)

A prince plots to kill the mad monk Rasputin for the good of the czar, the czarina and Russia.

Directors:

Richard Boleslawski (as Richard Boleslavsky), Charles Brabin (uncredited)

Writer:

Charles MacArthur (screen play)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ethel Barrymore ... The Czarina - Alexandra Feodorovna
Lionel Barrymore ... Grigori Yefimovitch Rasputin
Ralph Morgan ... The Czar - Nicholai Alexander
Tad Alexander ... The Czarevitch -Alexis Nikolaiovitch
John Barrymore ... Prince Paul Chegodieff
Diana Wynyard ... Princess Natasha
C. Henry Gordon ... Grand Duke Igor
Edward Arnold ... Doctor Remezov
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Storyline

As Europe looms on the edge of war in 1913, the family and members of the court of the Russian czar Nicholas come under the sway of a mysterious mystic named Rasputin. When Rasputin miraculously appears to cure the czar's son Alyosha of his hemophilia, the monk's reputation is cemented, particularly in the mind of the princess Natasha. Natasha's fiancé (and, later, husband) Prince Paul Chegodieff, however, suspects Rasputin is a charlatan who will cause the downfall of the royal family and perhaps of Russia itself. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Beautiful girls who came to pray! Caught in the web of debauched Rasputin, whose crafty mind toppled a throne!


Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 March 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Le moine et l'impératrice See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Dr. William Axt, MGM's musical director, brought together all the Greek and Russian orthodox church choirs in Los Angeles to sing at the celebration mass at the start of the movie. See more »

Goofs

The fact that the Tsarevich was sick was not announced publicly as portrayed in the movie. It was kept a secret. See more »

Quotes

The Czar: This is our destiny, my dear.
The Czarina: I know. What have we done to these people of yours, Nicky, that they'd hate us so,
The Czar: Nothing, Alex. Everybody loves you, you know that.
The Czarina: No. But, you love me, Nicky. That's enough for any Empress.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Upon its premiere "Rasputin and the Empress" ran approximately 132 minutes. Due to the famous lawsuits against it, a number of scenes had to be cut for legal reasons. One critical scene that was deleted was one which implied that Rasputin had raped Diana Wynyard's character of "Princess Natascha". The removal of this scene tended to make the character of Princess Natascha somewhat incomprehensible - initially she is a supporter of Rasputin; in the latter part of the film she is very afraid of him. Unless the viewer is aware of the cuts made in the film, there does not appear to be any explanation for the change in Princess Natascha toward Rasputin. See more »

Connections

Version of Rasputin (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Russian National Anthem
(uncredited)
Composer unknown
Played during the opening credits and at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great as dramatic history but as for Russian history...
7 August 2010 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

...forget about it. This film is completely inaccurate in its portrayal of actual events in Russian history. As for the nature and character of the historical figures involved, the three Barrymores give good renditions. There is Ethel Barrymore looking every inch the empress and giving a convincing portrayal of a woman concerned for the welfare of her very ill son - and I would expect that. What I didn't expect is how weird it would be to watch a film in which John Barrymore is the shining hero and Lionel Barrymore is a truly diabolical villain, and each are spectacularly convincing in their portrayals. Lionel is really the center of attention here as he plays the evil Rasputin whose ability to sidestep assassination attempts is legendary, and here a few logical explanations are given to some of his alleged abilities. However, none can explain what happened at the end of his life - how he was poisoned, bludgeoned, shot, and finally thrown into an icy river and still managed to cling to life for awhile.

Although Tsar Nicholas is accurately portrayed as a rather weak willed man and the Romanov marriage is also accurately portrayed as one of the few royal arranged marriages that also turned out to be a love match, there is a mischaracterization of the Tsar as being progressive and wanting a Duma only to have Rasputin defeat that plan. In fact, Nicholas was autocratic in his outlook and distrusted any attempt to give the people more say in their government. This sets up one of the great ironic struggles in the film - that of aristocrat Prince Paul Chegodieff (John Barrymore) wanting more for the peasants in the way of both bread and democracy, and that of peasant mystic Rasputin (Lionel Barrymore) saying that it was God's will that the peasants were poor and powerless. Paul wants to save Russia, Rasputin wants to rule it.

Another piece of fiction shown in the movie for dramatic measure are the public proclamations about the illness of Tsaravich Alexai, the heir to the Russian throne. In fact one of the things that turned the Russian people against the royal family - besides the fact that they were starving during WWI - was that the people assumed that Rasputin's hold over the empress was because they were lovers. The Romanovs did not want it to be known that the only son in the family and heir to the throne had a serious disease - in this case hemophilia - that kept him in very delicate health and would likely lead to a greatly shortened lifespan. They felt it would leave them vulnerable to the overthrowing of their rule. Ironically hiding the truth and leaving Rasputin's relationship to the empress unexplained also led to exactly that.

Watch this one for the high production values and compelling performances by the members of Hollywood's royal family during its golden age, but as for a Russian history lesson, look elsewhere.


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