Queen of Spades

"Excellent"

Queen of Spades Review


Based on a short story by Pushkin, this drama has echoes of Wilde and Dickens in its tale of supernatural temptation in 19th century St Petersburg. It's also been given a lush digital restoration to show off the stunning direction and cinematography.

Herman (Walbrook) is a German captain in the Russian army who is frustrated when he loses his entire year's salary in a card game. So when he hears the legend that an ageing local countess (Evans) traded her soul for the secret for winning at cards, he plots to learn the trick. To get into her house, he woos her ward Liza (Mitchell), who is also the object of affection for another officer (Howard). And when Herman confronts the countess, her reaction is seriously haunting, in every sense of the word.

The story is genuinely creepy, and director Dickinson ramps up the freak-out factor with clever camera work and outrageous lighting. Even when things get camp and arch, there's an unsettling tone to this story of a man who simply can't control his own greedy impulses, no matter who he destroys along the way.

All of this is augmented with expert cinematography by Otto Heller (Victim) and a moody score by George Auric (Orphee).

Most impressive is the way Dickinson crafts this film to echo Herman's slow slide into insanity, from suspicion and frustration to aggression, gloating and ultimately the world coming apart all around him. We really feel all of this simply because Dickinson refuses to go over the top until the crucial moment.

And Walbrook is terrific in the role, dashing but never likeable, even as we begin to feel sorry for him.

Of the rest of the cast, only Evans manages to do something interesting; the countess is wonderfully senile and razor sharp at the same time. We're completely terrified of her, as is everyone else in the story. By comparison, Mitchell and Howard are rather bland as the hapless, good-hearted couple caught in the horror. This is a little-seen film that deserves to find an audience. So let's hope this 50th anniversary restoration does the trick.



Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Wednesday 16th September 1925

Production compaines: Général Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Thorold Dickinson

Producer: Anatole de Grunwald

Starring: Marguerite Moreno as La comtesse Tomski (La Dame de Pique), Pierre Blanchar as Hermann, André Luguet as Iretski, Madeleine Ozeray as Lisa, Abel Jacquin as Prince Tomski, Jean Didier as Marumoff

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.