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Stephan55

A Rare TCM Treat: RASPUTIN AND THE EMPRESS (1932)

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That's interesting. I've said this before-- in the 'old' days of Hollywood the emphasis was sometimes on quantity rather than quality. A lot of stars and directors were in a rush to turn out the next film. And it was obviously before television rebroadcasts. They did not realize people would still be watching some of these productions years later.

 

I think THE RISE OF CATHERINE THE GREAT was Fairbanks' first British production, wasn't it?-- he would go on to make quite a few other pictures on that side of the pond. So it was a turning point for him.

Well, Fairbanks took a hand at producing films of his own in England in the mid '30s. Financially, though, it was a bust for him so he was back in Hollywood again by the latter part of the decade (with his Rupert performance in Zenda something of a comeback for him).

 

From what I've seen of his British efforts it was one that he made a dozen years or so later, State Secret, that was, far and away, his most satisfactory effort across the pond. As a matter of fact, Fairbanks also listed his role as the doctor in State Secret as one of his career favourites. I think the understated, low key performance he gave in that film is one of his best, quite a contrast to some of his more flamboyant work (which I also enjoy). He and Glynis Johns worked very nicely together in State Secret, though Herbert Lom stole every scene he was in.

 

By the way, to bring this conversation back to the thread's theme, Rasputin and the Barrymores, Doug Jr. had the opportunity to play John Barrymore's brother in Moby Dick. I can't remember what it was that prevented it (possibly the chance to play Scotty in Dawn Patrol), but Doug missed out on a chance to work with the Great Profile (and that would have been with the Barrymore of 1930, before drink got the great actor by the throat).

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Thanks TomJH & TopBilled for such an informative discourse.

I can always learn something new from "listening" to what you have to say. :)

 

It was a treat re-watching the three Barrymores together for their first and only on-screen performance.

I wonder why Ethel didn't make more films with her brothers?

 

 In the scene where John & Lionel are walking together down the corridor and Lionel lets out a great belch which brings a look of bemusement from brother John with a slight grin... I wonder if that was an impromptu as it looked to me as if John "almost" broke character?

 

I think

THE RISE OF CATHERINE THE GREAT  & THE SCARLET EMPRESS (both from 1934)

by two great directors (Korda  & von Sternberg) with two fine actresses (Elizabeth Bergner & Marlene Dietrich) in two very watchable performances, would make a great double-feature evening on TCM!!!

 

 

TomJH said

Collectors have never had it as good as they do now.

 

So true.

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.... So used to seeing Ethel Barrymore in roles as an older woman that it seems strange watching her in a performance given when she was quite a bit younger.

 

MGM certainly put a gob of money into this production, didn't they?

 

It was different watching a younger Ethel Barrymore...

Sorta like seeing pictures of my grandmother when she was a young girl, when I was so used to seeing her just as grandma.

 

No idea how much MGM sunk in this film? It certainly was an elaborate costumer. Not counting what they paid for the book rights, it had to be a lot of moolah.

According to Wikipedia, they only brought in $800,000 at the box office before the film was pulled due to the lawsuit. And an out-of-court settlement with MGM, reportedly of $250,000 (someone over at IMDb said it was $1,000,000?)...

In any event, it does'nt look like they made much, if any money on this one.  

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It was a treat re-watching the three Barrymores together for their first and only on-screen performance.

I wonder why Ethel didn't make more films with her brothers?

 

I don't believe that Ethel enjoyed the experience of making Rasputin. Her next Hollywood feature wouldn't be until 1944, two years after John's death.

 

Ethel, who had actually met Czar Nicoholas and Alexandra through a duchess, didn't see Rasputin and the Empress until it aired on television in the '50s. She told George Cukor that she rather liked it. "My, my, and wasn't Lionel naughty?" She didn't mean his character; she meant the manner in which he stole the film from her and John.

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I don't believe that Ethel enjoyed the experience of making Rasputin. Her next Hollywood feature wouldn't be until 1944, two years after John's death.

 

Ethel, who had actually met Czar Nicoholas and Alexandra through a duchess, didn't see Rasputin and the Empress until it aired on television in the '50s. She told George Cukor that she rather liked it. "My, my, and wasn't Lionel naughty?" She didn't mean his character; she meant the manner in which he stole the film from her and John.

 

Wiki doesn't say what she did during those 12 or so years;  e.g. did she go back to the stage? 

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She had a contract for a play immediately following Rasputin. She went back to NY to the stage, but she never had the stature she had in the past and took to drinking like brother Jack when jobs became fewer and inbetween.

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Above all, Ethel Barrymore loved the theater. Not just Broadway, she loved regional theater and touring. In 1940, she played the role of Miss Moffatt in the original Broadway production of The Corn Is Green, later played on screen by Bette Davis. In her first film after Rasputin, she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for None but the Lonely Heart. Ms. Barrymore first came to my attention when I was a child -- The Spiral Staircase (another Oscar nomination for her) was on the old "Million Dollar Movie" television series. But her heart was never in the movies.

 

The Ethel Barrymore Theatre is the only Broadway theater still in existence, of the theaters built by the Shuberts named for artists who were affiliated with them. The current occupant is the mega-hit, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

 

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