Caterina di Russia
Catherine of Russia
Catherine de Russie / Katharina von Russland
Fortunato Misiano, Nino Misiano (executive) for Romana Film, Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie (SNC)
directed by Umberto Lenzi
starring Hildegard Knef, Sergio Fantoni, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Raul Grassilli, Ángela Cavo, Enzo Fiermonte, Leonardo Botta, Gianni Solaro, Ennio Balbo, Tina Lattanzi, Tullio Altamura, Milly Vitale, Romano Ghini, Vera Besusso, Luigi D'Acri, Bernard Faber, Janez Vrhovec
written by Guido Malatesta, Umberto Lenzi, music by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino
Available on DVD !
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Russia, 1762: Princess Catherine (Hildegard Knef) is married to Grand
Duke Peter III of Russia (Raul Grassilli) - but their marriage is an
unhappy one, so much so in fact that she has an almost public affair with
her chamberlain (Leonardo Botta) ... and Peter actually couldn't care less
if it wasn't for his male pride which makes him send the chamberlain to
Sweden as a diplomat. This only drives Catherine into the arms of her next
lover, Count Poniatowski (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) of Poland, until she finds
out that he solely had an affair with her for his own political agenda ...
Eventually, the old Czarina (Tina Lattanzi) dies, and Peter is to be
crowned the new Czar, and since he wants to make his new girlfriend (Vera
Besusso) Czarina, he wants to get rid of Catherine. Finding herself
cornered, Catherine remembers a Cossack General, Orloff (Sergio Fantoni),
who was in fact the only man who ever dared to disagree with Peter - and
was sent to Siberia for it. So she has Orloff freed, and backed by various
political forces at the Czar's court, she has Orloff lead his Cossacks
against Peter's army - and ultimately, the Cossacks win the battle and
overthrow Peter - and from now on it is for Catherine to rule Russia, with
Orloff at her side ...
Probably not a film for history buffs: Catherine of Russia is a
very free retelling of actual historical events, with facts altered ever
so often to fit the period piece-formula Italian (and European) audiences
were (or were at least thought to be) hungry for, with action, romance,
intrigue and of course undying love all in their proper place.
Having said that, seen as a formulaic Italian period piece, Catherine
of Russia is actually pretty good, sets, props and costumes fit the
epic in scale, Umberto Lenzi's direction, while not exactly inventive, is
very fluent and keeps things going at a steady pace, plus Hildegard Knef
makes a good, charismatic Catherine and Raul Grassilli is great as Peter
III, who goes from borderline mad to totally bonkers in the course of the
movie. Just don't confuse the whole film with a history lesson !