Author Topic: 1932 movie "Rasputin and the Empress"  (Read 26347 times)

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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Rasputin and the Empress
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2004, 06:25:22 PM »
Also, when MGM was being "dis-mantled" prior to the great auctions of the early '70's,  literally tons of material was destroyed and used as landfill on their backlots.  In the case of those old nitarte films, if the edited clips had even survived, they are most likely now underneath acres of parking lots and  condominiums.
Cheers,
Robert
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Offline Greg_King

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Re: Rasputin and the Empress
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2004, 12:00:46 AM »
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Greg
    You got taken to the cleaners on the vhs I bought when it first came and I Know it didn't cost me that much. I would have waited till the price went down.

Azrael


I actualy paid list for it-at the time it was released that I got it it had not been priced for general sales but for rental markets (it might have been in the late 1980s or early 90s), so I didn't have choice.  And I had to have it as I was then working on my biography of Felix Yusupov, so didn't have a choice!

Greg King

Offline Annie

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Re: Rasputin and the Empress
« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2004, 07:27:14 PM »
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It should be fairly easy to find if it's still in print.  I remember I bought my VHS copy in 1993 when it first came out and had to pay $90; now you should be able to find it on Amazon or ebay for $10-15.

Greg King



I remember in the 'old days' most videotapes, especially hard to find or less popular ones, were very expensive. When video rentals first started in the mid-80's you had to give a blank inprint of your credit card, signed, to join. If lost, a video could easily run close to a hundred bucks. As time went on and popularity skyrocketed, somewhere someone got the brilliant idea that if you sell the video for $14.99 instead of $89.99 you make a LOT more in the long run because the average person in the general public became customers, not just 'rich folk', video stores and libraries. Now even the scarcest videos are only about $30 tops (if you can find them still in print, some things have been discontinued over time)

Offline borgia

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Re: Rasputin and the Empress
« Reply #18 on: November 03, 2004, 07:13:37 PM »
Rasputin and the Empress was an acting field day for the Barrymore brothers and sister.I think that Ethel Barrymore looks more like the Empress than other ladies who have portrayed her.I remember one scene,where she asks a soldier,to please take and care for the family pet birds. Felix Yusupov   should have only been  half as good looking as John Barrymore ,who portrayed the character based on  him. And I think that John played him  with far more justice and heroics than he deserved .            Lionel Barrymore acts up a storm as Rasputin.But,thats  an acting  part youve got to run away with.I wonder if the royal family,especially King George and Queen Mary,saw the film?What might they have thought?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by borgia »

Offline borgia

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Re: Rasputin and the Empress
« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2004, 07:29:25 PM »
A friend of mine got into the VCRs,and videos,when they 1st came out, about 25  to 30 years ago.Hes said that it was a very expensive pursuit.  Around 20 years ago, I would rent the big,clunky box of a VCR player , and videos,from a local supermarket.Twas a big production.Talking about when VCRs and videos 1st came out;are we not dating ourselves!?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by borgia »

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Rasputin and the Empress
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2004, 06:01:21 PM »
An older Russian historian friend of mine told me if I wanted to know how Alexandra spoke then watch Ethel Barrymore's performance....  This is what I was told:

Ethel Barrymore patterned her voice and mannerisms on Alexandra herself.  A duchess (Westminster, I think) among other people who knew the Empress, assisted her in creating the character and voice.  I have no idea if this duchess knew Alexandra.  I was also told that Ethel had met Alexandra - I don't know how this could have been possible.  Has anyone else run across anything on this?

Bob

Offline Janet_W.

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Re: Rasputin and the Empress
« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2004, 06:31:09 PM »
I read that too, Bob. It may also be in her autobiography.

In her late teens,twenties and thirties, Ethel Barrymore was seen as a sort of "Young America" type of woman--pretty, talented, fashionable, spirited. (By the time she played Alexandra, of course, she was much older.) Her photos and articles about her were included on a regular basis in all popular ladies' magazines of the time. She also took England and many central European nations by storm. It's very possible that she may have toured St. P; I'd have to do some more research.

Offline Janet_W.

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Re: Rasputin and the Empress
« Reply #22 on: November 08, 2004, 05:28:06 PM »
Re: the matter of whether Ethel Barrymore met the Tsarina, I checked two of my books about the Barrymore family this weekend. One of them mentioned that Ethel Barrymore claimed to have met both the Tsar and Tsarina through her friend, the Duchess of Sutherland. Further checking indicated that if this were true, it would have taken place in the late 1890s or very early 1900s. Ethel was an international society "darling" at that time, so it's possible. I'll continue to be on the lookout for more information.

Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Rasputin and the Empress
« Reply #23 on: November 08, 2004, 10:40:39 PM »
One of the reasons Irina Yusoupova prevailed in her suit against MGM was the fact that the Princess Natasha character could only have been her. Tsar Nicholas' siblings who had children only had boys with the exception of her - so there was no possibility "Natasha" could have been anyone else. Also, the film depiction of "Natasha" contained the falsehood that she had beend raped by Rasputin.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by LisaDavidson »

Offline Janet_W.

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Re: Rasputin and the Empress
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2005, 07:01:10 PM »
I've just been getting around to reviewing, once again, my copy of Rasputin and the Empress. (I watched it several years ago when I first purchased it.) And I think the best thing one can say about this film is that you are able to see all three Barrymores!

Otherwise, I find it a travesty.  :o  In fact, checking a previous item which I posted last year, I can't imagine why anyone would find this film comparable in quality to the 1971 film.

The problem isn't due, specifically, to it being an older film; I have found many films from that same year of far better quality. Unfortunately, the production was very bumpy, due to many factors, and the writing is inconsistant, being everything from okay to ludicrous. Anyone of us will see obvious mistakes from the first five minutes on. Rasputin is played outrageously by Lionel, and he must have had a lot of fun scratching, belching, etc., but his Father Gregori is straight out of a melodrama. Moreover, the situations involving Rasputin are innacurate (the film was originally going to be called simply Rasputin) and have him literally hypnotizing Alexei from behind a window, telling both Nicholas and Alexandra he'll be taking over, etc., etc. John Barrymore's theatrics would be better suited to the theater, and Ethel Barrymore gamely tries to maintain a sense of dignity but is also stagey. (Incidentally, Alexandra is written as very sympathetic.) The actor who plays Nicholas, Ralph Morgan, actually isn't half bad, but his reedy voice is in sad contrast to that of the Barrymores.

The plot twists and turns to the point of ridiculousness. (And I think we'll all agree that the actual story is dramatic enough!) Another bizarre aspect: Someone spliced in actual footage of the Tsar's soldiers, which is in faster motion than the 1932 film.

Finally, it's no wonder that Felix and Irina went to court over this movie. If you were alive in the 1930s and had known the Romanovs or were knowledgeable of the Russian Court, seeing this film must have been an apalling experience. And besides the distortions and out-and-out lies, the production (aside from some nicely appointed sets) is like an extremely bad high school production . . . or some sort of comedy spoof.

Concurrently, I am reading Ethel Barrymore's autobiography, which is charming. She does briefly mention the production, saying that it was all very confusing because the script was changed from day to day. She also says nothing about meeting the Tsarina personally--at least, I haven't found any reference as yet--but I am sure she did know people who had known Alexandra.

So, if you want to look at this film, perhaps it would be best to borrow a copy! It is worthwhile, but more as a curiousity than anything else.






Offline Imperial.Opal

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1932 movie "Rasputin and the Empress"
« Reply #25 on: April 06, 2005, 08:30:01 AM »
Hi there.I recently saw Rasputin and the Empress on tv the late late movie,starring the 3 Barrymores -Ethel,John and Lionel.It was made 15 years after the revolution and is set between 1913 and 1918.I believe MGM was sued for damages by Princess Irina Yousoupoff for her portrayal in the movie,not a bad movie for its time.- Compared to Nicholas and Alexandra 1971, is it good or bad,comments welcome.Thanks Imperial Opal Australia

Offline azrael7171918

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1932 movie "Rasputin and the Empress"
« Reply #26 on: December 10, 2005, 11:04:35 AM »
Word is out today on Yahoo news that actress Jean Parker died on November 30th at the age of 90.

For those of you who don't know she portrayed Grand Duchess Marie in Rasputin and the Empress.

She had the largest part of the children except of course for Tad Alexander who portrayed Alexie.

ferngully

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Re: Rasputin and the Empress
« Reply #27 on: December 10, 2005, 01:28:19 PM »
can you tell me more about the film? i never saw a representation of the romanovs where marie played a big part
selina                       xxxxxxxx

Offline Janet_W.

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Re: Rasputin and the Empress
« Reply #28 on: December 12, 2005, 01:09:53 PM »
I didn't see this thread until today; I apologize for initiating a separate thread under the news section re: Jean Parker's death!

I happen to own a copy of Rasputin and the Empress. It is of interest to both film aficienados and Romanov enthusiasts, not so much due to cinematic excellence or historical accuracy, but because it is the only film to feature all three Barrymore siblings and is also the foundation for a great deal of wrong-thinking re: the Rasputin factor. Many of us, in fact, are aware that this film provoked a legal trial in which Felix and Irina Youssopov pressed charges against Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios regarding portions of the script regarding a princess who, essentially, was Irinia.

Another aspect of the story that could have provoked a legal battle was the portrayal of Rasputin and his involvement with the royal children. The scenes in which he supposedly hypnotizes Alexei are, in fact, comical from today's point-of-view. But another scene does show Rasputin making the moves on Marie. Jean Parker, an exceptionally pretty young actress, is well-cast in the role.  There is no evidence that I'm aware of, however, that Rasputin ever molested or attempted to molest the children.

The film incurred a number of production problems, in part due to the squabbles between the Barrymore siblings, but also due to some of the slap-dash scriptwriting, which shows. All the same, the sets are generally quite well done, and the costuming is also good for it's time. Recently I visited The Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park, California, which closed its doors on October 31. One of the exhibits showed all three Barrymores as portrayed in the film, and the gown worn by Ethel Barrymore as the Empress was particularly dazzling. A plaque indicated that it was an exact replica of the actual dress; whether that is true or not, I do not know, but in comparing photographs of Alexandra in the gown to the Movieland Wax Museum gown, I would say that someone did an excellent job of creating a copy of a copy!

Offline Imperial.Opal

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Re: Rasputin and the Empress
« Reply #29 on: December 14, 2005, 04:55:35 AM »
    Janet- W,
                   Have you read Rasputin in Hollywood, a interesting book about the legal battle between MGM and the Yussapovs over Rasputin and the Empress. Regards. I.OPAL   :) :)  ;)