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Queen Kelly
     

Queen Kelly

Director: Erich Von Stroheim, Gloria Swanson, Seena Owen, Walter Byron

Cast: Erich Von Stroheim, Gloria Swanson, Seena Owen, Walter Byron

 

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Though filmmaker Erich Von Stroheim's notorious profligacy had made him virtually unhirable in the US by 1929, screen-star Gloria Swanson still had faith in him. She poured a great deal of her own money in Von Stroheim's last silent film, Queen Kelly, and agreed to play the leading role to insure box-office success. When production began, Stroheim had not quite

Overview

Though filmmaker Erich Von Stroheim's notorious profligacy had made him virtually unhirable in the US by 1929, screen-star Gloria Swanson still had faith in him. She poured a great deal of her own money in Von Stroheim's last silent film, Queen Kelly, and agreed to play the leading role to insure box-office success. When production began, Stroheim had not quite completed his script: all he had was the premise of a young Irish convent girl named Kitty Kelly (Gloria Swanson) being seduced by a German nobleman (Walter Byron) who was slated to marry the mad Queen (Seena Owen) of a tiny European principality. Brandishing a whip, the looney Queen drives the hapless Kitty from the palace. It was after shooting had started that Von Stroheim filled Swanson in on the rest of the plot: Kitty was to inherit all the worldly possessions of her aunt in German East Africa. Arriving to take charge of the estate, Kitty would learn that she was proud possessor of a string of brothels. Realizing that such a plot device would never get past the American censors, Swanson reacted in horror; she frantically called her money men in America and screamed "There's a madman in charge!" In the final release version of Queen Kelly, hastily completed by Swanson to recoup her losses and ultimately released in Europe, Kitty Kelly was forced into a marriage with brothel manager Tully Marshall, a tobacco-juiced stained degenerate. She ultimately returns to the nobleman who'd seduced her, is driven from the palace by Queen Owen, and commits suicide. This version contained dialogue sequences, and one musical interlude, sung by star Swanson. Despite its tawdry plot, Queen Kelly was beautifully photographed; its most famous shot, of Swanson praying in church, her face framed by flickering candles, was excerpted in the actress' much-later talkie Sunset Boulevard. The currently available restored version of Queen Kelly uses still pictures and explanatory titles to fill in the footage that has decomposed over the years.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Queen Kelly is one of the few films that deserves the word "legendary." Film students know it as the "lost" silent masterpiece of Erich Von Stroheim, the film that he was not allowed to complete and that ruined him as a director. Von Stroheim intended for Kelly to be a five hour exploration of the title character and her ill-fated romance with a prince, but only about a third of the film was actually shot, and so what is left is very incomplete, but fascinating. Clearly on view is Von Stroheim's visual flair; there are numerous shots of sublime beauty or stunning drama. Von Stroheim, with a reputation of being intense, also indulges in some lighter moments, as in the "meet cute" scene in which Kelly loses her bloomers when meeting the Prince. But that intensity, combined with perversity, also is in evidence, most notably in the breathtaking sequence in which the reigning Queen chases Kelly away while lashing her mercilessly with a whip. It's impossible to know what the final product might have been like, but what exists is tantalizing. It's also not without flaws, among them the fact that star Gloria Swanson is too old (and too worldly) to be acceptable as the teen-aged orphan she plays in the portion of the film that has survived. Still, Swanson demonstrates again that she was a unique and priceless talent of the silent era, and she is well supported by Seena Owen's lasciviously vicious Queen and Walter Byron's intriguing Prince. A lost masterpiece? One can't say, but it's a captivating fragment.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/10/2003
UPC:
0738329024529
Original Release:
1929
Rating:
NR
Source:
Kino Video
Presentation:
[B&W]
Sound:
[silent]
Time:
1:41:00
Sales rank:
51,135

Special Features

Audio commentary by biographer Richard Koszarski; Rare outtake footage; The Kino International restored ending; The "Swanson Ending"; Videotaped introduction by Gloria Swanson; Excerpt of the original screenplay; Production documents; Photo gallery; "Man of Many Skins," a 1952 TV performance; Audio clips of cinematographer Paul Ivano, assistant William Margulies, Allan Dwan and Billy Wilder; Dossier on Merry-Go-Round, with Excerpts of scenes directed by von Stroheim; A note on the film by Erich von Stroheim

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Gloria Swanson Kitty Kelly
Seena Owen Queen Regina
Walter Byron Prince "Wild" Wolfram von Hohenberg Falsenstein
William Von Brincken Wolfram's Lieutenant
Madge Hunt Mother Superior
Wilson Benge Valet
Sidney Bracey Prince's butler
Lucille Van Lent Maid to Prince Wolfram
Ann Morgan Nun
Tully Marshall Jon Bloehm Vryheid
Florence Gibson Kelly's Aunt
Ray Gaggett Coughdrops
Sul Te Wan Kali
Sylvia Ashton Kelly's aunt
Gordon Westcott Lackey

Technical Credits
Erich Von Stroheim Director,Art Director,Screenwriter
Robert Day Art Director
Louis Germonprez Asst. Director
Paul Ivano Cinematographer
Joseph P. Kennedy Producer
Viola Lawrence Editor
Franz Lehár Score Composer
Harold Miles Art Director
Gordon Pollock Cinematographer
Max Ree Costumes/Costume Designer
Benjamin F. Reynolds Cinematographer
Gloria Swanson Producer
Adolph Tandler Score Composer
Gregg Toland Cinematographer
Vinton Vernon Sound/Sound Designer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Opening Titles [1:40]
2. Queen Regina [10:29]
3. A March in the Country [7:26]
4. Penance and a Prayer [5:08]
5. The Engagement Banquet [5:58]
6. Visiting the Convent [7:19]
7. The Prince's Chambers [6:15]
8. Supper for Two [9:32]
9. Moonlight and Orchids [4:36]
10. A Woman Scorned [12:15]
11. The Restoration [4:01]
12. Her New Family [10:04]
13. The Wedding Party [4:27]
14. "Wilt Thou?" [8:06]
15. Epilogue [3:23]

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