A Royal Scandal

1945, Movie, NR, 94 mins

Review

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Catherine The Great had been portrayed by Mae West, Elizabeth Bergner, Marlene Dietrich, and Pola Negri. She lived to be 67 years old. Amazing, if we are to believe her amorous ways. Lubitsch was to have directed this, but he became ill and the reins were handed to Preminger, with Ernst looking over his shoulder and making sure that Otto's customary heavy hand was somewhat lightened. The ancient Biro/Lengyel play "Czarina," which had been used as the basis for other movies about the Russian queen, was adapted this time by Mayer and Frank, veteran screenwriters who knew what they were doing. To Bankhead's St. Petersburg castle comes Eythe, a young cavalry officer who has ridden for days to tell her of a coup planned by two generals. Eythe admits that he has plenty of energy left despite the travel, so Bankhead requests that he return later that night for a "private interview." Eythe is handsome, albeit a bit sappy, but he must have some ability in the lovemaking department, because his rise to the rank of general is rapid. Eythe is soon in love with Baxter, a virginal woman who is a lady in waiting. Bankhead falls hard for Eythe, and, when she learns that he is affianced to Baxter, the young woman is sent away. Eythe is heartbroken but still owes allegiance to his queen, so he helps overcome the plot to dethrone her. Bankhead is so happy at what he's done, she allows Eythe and Baxter to reunite while she finds new thrills in the arms of Price, the French ambassador. With all of the sleeping around Bankhead does, it's a wonder any state business ever got done in the years when Catherine was Great. A few laughs, but Bankhead chews up the scenery and the pacing is off a beat. Lubitsch had filmed this as FORBIDDEN PARADISE in 1924. leave a comment

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