Rasputin and the Empress - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Rasputin and the Empress Reviews

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½ October 24, 2016
If it were done with anyone else but the Barrymores, I doubt that it would have been watchable. Extremely dated film has the charm of the actors (once again: the Barrymores) to carry it.
January 25, 2016
I really wanted to like this film, since I like all of the Barrymores and they were all in this film. However, the script is appalling. and the historical inaccuracies inexcusable. Playing the German national anthem for the Austrian ambassador was just the beginning. Despite the talents of the Barrymores which I respect, here they are all overacting to the point of being ridiculous. When I compare this flick to Nicolas and Alexandra, this film is laughable. To see them at there best, watch Ethel in None but the Lonely Heart, Lionel in Broken Lullaby, and John in The Great Man Votes.
Super Reviewer
½ April 15, 2015
Interesting drama with the three Barrymore's together but could have used tighter editing.
April 12, 2015
good costumer/bio-pic, kinda.
August 2, 2011
July 29, 2011
Rasputin and the Empress is a mediocre film. It is about the friendship between Rasputin and the Empress Alexandra of Russia. The acting of John, Ethel, Lionel Barrymore is pretty good. The script is okay but could have been better. Richard Boleslawski did a decent job directing this movie. I liked this motion picture but would not see it again.
July 23, 2011
This is all myth. If you want the truth, read "Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History" (Amazon). Rasputin fought a violent and anti-Semitic society, advocating equal rights for minorities (especially oppressed Jews) and campaigning against war. The Tsar had the blood on his hands of the senseless torture and slaughter of entire villages of Jews. Rasputin never harmed a soul.
Hypocritically, the society that tried to discredit Rasputin with rumors of women and drink, was filled with promiscuous aristocrats, many of whom suffered from venereal disease (the newspapers of the time were filled with ads for cures for VD)and most of whom consumed vodka and French champagne by the case. So, if Rasputin had been an aristocrat and exhibited the rumored behavior he was maligned for, no one would have thought anything of it.
½ December 17, 2010
Saw this on TCM. The only film in which all 3 Barrymores appeared and you'd be hard pressed to understand why they were considered acting giants. Ethel is one note playing noble, John is attempting charming and dashing and Lionel is completely hammy as Rasputin. The dialog is ridiculous. I can't imagine Rasputin using the phrase "cock and bull story." Unbelievable that this script was written by Charles MacArthur (and the uncredited Ben Hecht and Robert E. Sherwood) and nominated for an Oscar. Historically inacurate, this is the film that brought about a lawsuit which resulted in that disclaimer "This motion picture is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental" in every film since.
½ August 6, 2010
"This motion picture is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental"

It's interesting that the above disclaimer is seen during the credits of virtually every film made due to the lawsuit filed against MGM after the initial release of RASPUTIN AND THE EMPRESS. A little over 15 years had passed since the events depicted in the film actually happened. Some of the principals involved were still alive and well? and none too happy with MGM's version of the story. During the resultant libel suit - the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, who were able to secure (at the time) a very hefty settlement from MGM.

Sure, Hollywood took some artistic liberties in depicting the drama which occurred during the final years of the Romanov dynasty (just prior to the 1917 Russian Revolution). The opening credits really do not dispute that - and reads just so:

The Czarina???????????.?..Ethel Barrymore
Rasputin??????????????..Lionel Barrymore
The Czar??????????????..Ralph Morgan
The Czarevitch???????????...Tad Alexander
Prince Chegodieff (fictional character)?..John Barrymore
Natasha (fictional character)?????...Diana Wynard
Grand Duke Igor (fictional character)??.C. Henry Gordon
Doctor Remezov (fictional character)??.Edward Arnold

In reality, the story of Grigory Rasputin is so bizarre that the film really pales in comparison. This really is an example of the truth being stranger than fiction.
I suppose it's really not too hard to imagine how a charismatic figure like Rasputin could gain the confidence of an Empress. Not when it comes to saving the life of her young son, Alexei - The Czarevitch, heir to the Russian throne - who becomes gravely ill due to complications relating to hemophilia.

The Czarina Alexandra, a devout Orthodox - turns to the holy man Rasputin for help when treatment by Russian doctors fail. "I'm a simple man who believes God answers prayer", Rasputin tells Alexandra. "You trust doctors?don't you believe God can do more than they can?"

Miraculously, Rasputin is able to "cure" young Alexei?and so begins Rasputin rise as a figure in Russian History. He uses the influence gained by being associated with the Romanovs to achieve social and political power.

Despite the title - the drama seems to center not on the relationship between Rasputin and the Empress Alexandra, but rather more towards the dynamics between Rasputin and the Prince Chegodieff, who does not trust Rasputin at all. "There is something clammy about him", Chegodieff admits to his fiance, Natasha. "I can't explain it. I have the same feeling brushing against something on a dark night."

This is the only film in which all three Barrymore siblings appear in the same film?but RASPUTIN AND THE EMPRESS really belongs to Lionel, who has the best lines. "In less than a year?I WILL BE RUSSIA."

The film itself is beautiful to look at due to the lavish sets and costumes. Director Richard Boleslawski achieved a more realistic atmosphere here rather than the lyrical quality imparted by director Josef Von Sternberg for his SCARLET EMPRESS (which looked at the reign of Catherine the Great). Boleslawski inserts stock footage during various scenes.

The film seems rather long for a 121 minute film. The First World War is just touched upon. So too the Russian Revolution and the dramatic end of the reign of The Romanovs. As historical drama, RASPUTIN AND THE EMPRESS may leave you wanting for more. Details, that is.

August 4, 2010
The Barrymore family of two previous generations- Ethel, John, and Lionel take on Russian history as two real players in it and a fictionalized character. Lionel plays Rasputin- in one of the most terrifying characterizations I have ever scene. Ethel plays Empress Alexis, who gets hypnotized by Rasputin in an effort to dethrone Russia. John plays a prince who is instantly suspicious of Rasputin. The movie reads like a play, there is nothing subtle about these performances, but these are the saints of American theatre. If anything, this takes film back to its roots- tell a story in a theatrical reality. The film also does have clips of real footage of Czarist Russia in between acts.
August 4, 2010
not real historically accurate but a visual feast-as only MGM could do
½ February 8, 2010
This is worth watching just for the fact that all three of the Barrymore clan are in it - John, Ethel and Lionel. It's a good story with a fine production. It is a bit long and has some slow areas, still, the acting is grand and it has many interesting scenes.
½ February 8, 2010
This is worth watching just for the fact that all three of the Barrymore clan are in it - John, Ethel and Lionel. It's a good story with a fine production. It is a bit long and has some slow areas, still, the acting is grand and it has many interesting scenes.
January 25, 2009
It supposed to be great historical drama... It came out silly.
April 21, 2008
A real oldie starring
John Barrymore
Ethel Barrymore
Lionel Barrymore
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