- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 41 minutes
- Video: Black & White
- Released: June 10, 2003
- Originally Released: 1929
- Label: Kino Video
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Packaging: Keep Case
- Additional Release Material:
- Shorts: "Man of Many Skins" (1952 TV Performance)
- Documentary: Dossier on Merry-Go-Round
- Introduction: Gloria Swanson - Star
- Audio Commentary: Richard Koszarski - Biographer
- Alternate Ending: The Swanson Ending
- Interactive Features:
- Interactive Menus
- Scene Access
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Variety - 03/06/1985
"...A tremendously welcome event....The settings are incomparably sumptuous, the detail of the costume and behavior unparalleled, and the understanding and expression of human perversity and cruelty is virtually unique in cinema..."
USA Today - 12/01/1989
"...The early courtship scenes between Swanson and a nobleman are impressive..."
Description by OLDIES.com:
In 1928, after years of struggles within the studio system, Erich von Stroheim found the opportunity to create his crowning achievement: a storybook romance of intoxicating beauty, counterbalanced with a frightfully grim tale of moral corruption. Gloria Swanson stars as an innocent convent girl who falls under the spell of a handsome prince (Walter Byron) on the eve of his marriage to a diabolical queen (Seena Owen).
Queen Kelly might have been one of von Stroheim's greatest films had actress/producer Swanson not halted it in mid-production. Kino on video presents the critically acclaimed restoration of von Stroheim's ambitious epic, which incorporates many of the scenes (set within an African brothel) that caused Swanson to shut down the film. Also featured on this disc are rare outtakes, Swanson's alternate ending and a little seen TV performance by von Stroheim.
This film, which traces one woman's passage from sheltered convent to brothel, has one of the most notorious production histories in all of cinema. Gloria Swanson stars as Kitty Kelly, a young woman who lives quietly in a convent and has her life disrupted when she attracts the attention of a prince; when curtsying to his majesty, her underwear falls down to her ankles! The amused royal kidnaps the girl, but the Queen disrupts the planned interlude, and angrily beats Kelly. Ashamed and upset, Kelly wishes to kill herself. She changes her mind upon receiving a note from her aunt who, unknown to Kitty, runs a whorehouse in East Africa. Kelly sails to Daar-es-Salaam to meet her relative. And that is just the start of a series of surreal adventures including her aunt's death, a marriage to an old and decrepit man, and the Prince's reentrance into her life.
- Kino Video's print was assembled by Dennis Doros in 1985.
- "Queen Kelly's" production history is truly one of the most fascinating and debated in film. It was produced by Swanson herself and financed by Joseph Kennedy, who was then her lover. Although Erich von Stroheim submitted a finished script, he very quickly veered in another, more overtly sexual direction -- also a more costly one. Insistent that every aspect of the set and decor be "real" (including the panties, which had to be made of pure silk), the budget soared. Swanson balked and, with Kennedy's approval, fired von Stroheim and temporarily stopped production.
Before she could resume filming, however, sound films came in, and Swanson decided simply to finish the film off quickly, altering the story. It never received much of a release.
Much of von Stroheim's footage which survives -- including scenes found during the 1960s and added to this reconstructed print -- are amazingly lavish, beautiful and contain, perhaps, a touch of perversity. From a purely monetary and realistic perspective (such as likely problems with censors), Swanson certainly had a point; from an artistic perspective, however, von Stroheim presents a compelling and original vision.
Despite Swanson's firing of him, she and von Stroheim were not enemies, and 22 years later the two were reunited in Billy Wilder's masterpiece "Sunset Boulevard," in which they played roles very similar to their real personas -- and in which a clip from "Queen Kelly" appears.
Movie Lovers' Ratings & Reviews:
Based on 14 ratings.
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Movie Lover: Jeremy Weinstein
Walnut Creek, CA US
-- December, 1, 2007
This film is unbelievable on many levels. First, I can't believe anyone would have trusted von Stroheim, consistently a quintessential "mad genius," to not break the financial backs of his financiers, which he did. Second, I can't believe that anyone would have trusted him to come across with a film that would make it through the censors, which he couldn't. Third, I can't believe that any film, much less a silent film, could so compellingly depict the fast journey to the heart of darkness, which he does. I highly recommend this picture. The DVD extras are all terrific- Kino as usual does a wonderful job, including the von Stroheim-shot scenes from Merry-Go-Round (1923). There's good commentary from a von Stroheim scholar that heightens enjoyment of the film. Although von Stroheim couldn't control his spending or his temprement, or his ability to be so far ahead of his time (who knows what more great pictures he would have gone on to make- and how much more intact those that he did make would remain- if he could have just nodded a little more to those realities), the money's long gone, so enjoy the perversity in the environment of the authenticity he achieves by watching this after seeing another movie of the time- e.g., The Swan (Dimitri Buchowetzki, 1925) or another film of the period depicting a "fairytale" kingdom with its dissolute nobles- which won't approach von Stroheim.
- Sales Rank: 38,774
- UPC: 738329024529
- Shipping Weight: 0.25/lbs (approx)
- International Shipping: 1 item