November 21, 2014

Films

The Queen of Spades – 1949 | 95 mins | Drama, Horror | B&W

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Plot Synopsis

The Queen of Spades

A wonderfully macabre supernatural fantasy based on a short story by Alexander Pushkin. Director Thorold Dickinsonís highly atmospheric period piece exudes high production values, elegant costumes and imaginative visuals thanks to the cinematography of Otto Heller.

It is 1806 in Imperial Russia, and the city of St. Petersburg is in the grip of gambling fever. As a result many superstitions have arisen, one of them being to do with the evil influence of the titular playing card. A German engineer working in the Russian army, Captain Herman Suvorin (Anton Walbrook), is taunted nightly by his card-playing comrades but canít afford to join them. He hears of an ancient countess, Ranevskaya (Edith Evans), who is said to have sold her soul to the devil in order to gain the secret to success at Faro Ė a tale that is confirmed by an ancient book Suvorin stumbles across in a bookstore.

Intrigued to learn the secret, the conniving Suvorin seeks out the old countess’s household, and feigning a romantic interest, seduces the countessís lovelorn young companion Lizaveta Ivanova (Yvonne Mitchell). Via Lizaveta he uncovers a secret entrance to the countessís bedroom by means of a hidden stairway. The captain gains admittance into the house by night, but frightens the abhorrent old countess to death without learning her secret. Believing a chapter in the old book entitled ĎThe Dead Shall Give Up Their Secretsí, the now-crazed Suvorin dreams that he is in possession of the secret to Faro, and goes to the gambling den with all his money. He challenges a fellow officer to a hand of Faro with 188,000 roubles as the wager, and is just about to play his winning ace, when before his eyes it changes into a grinning Queen of Spades.

Production Team

Thorold Dickinson: Director
William Kellner: Art Direction
Otto Heller: Cinematography
Oliver Messel: Costume Design
Hazel Wilkinson: Editing
Georges Auric: Original Music
Anatole de Grunwald: Producer
Rodney Ackland: Script
Arthur Boys: Script

Cast

Anton Walbrook: Capt Herman Suvorin
Edith Evans: Countess Ranevskaya
Yvonne Mitchell: Lizaveta Ivanova
Ronald Howard: Andrei
Mary Jerrold: Old Varvarushka
Anthony Dawson: Fyodor
Miles Malleson: Tchybukin
Michael Medwin: Hovaisky
Athene Seyler: Princess Ivashin



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