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

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

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.