The Queen of Spades
The Queen of Spades is a British Fantasy-Horror film that follows the life of a Russian soldier, Herman Suvorin. Suvorin is an engineers captain living in Saint Petersburg in the early 1800’s.
With influences from the silent era and even German expressionism, this film features 91 minutes of black and white cinematography. A supernatural drama, the film tells a tale of the irrefutable desire man has for unlimited wealth, as it follows Suvorin down a twisted path of gambling, deception and death.
Cast & Crew
This film was directed by Thorold Dickinson, a director, producer, screenwriter and an educator. Dickinson is well known for his work in the film Gaslight, however has been praised by Martin Scorsese for The Queen of Spades, who considers the film one of the very best to come out of the 1940’s.
The story was originally written as a short story by Alexander Pushkin, with Rodney Ackland and Arthur Boys credited as screenplay writers.
The film features an interesting cast, with Anton Walbrook playing the male lead of Captain Herman Suvorin. Anton Walbrook worked with Thorold Dickinson on Gaslight, and in fact stands as a big reason to Dickinson’s success on The Queen of Spades.
Other actors cast in this film include Edith Evans, making her debut into film and playing the role of Countess Ranevskaya, as well as Yvonne Mitchell, who plays the role of the Countess’s ward, named Lizaveta Ivanova. In addition Ronald Howard, Mary Jerrold, Anthony Dawson, Miles Malleson, and Michael Medwin are some of the many actors cast in this film.
The Queen of Spades Plot Overview
Captain Herman Suvorin is Russian soldier that has been looked down upon by by many of the other officers, who come from a seemingly higher class, simply because he is an engineers captain.
From this much emotional abuse, Suvorin holds onto a deep-seated envy that leads him to believe he needs to acclaim more wealth in order to gain much-needed respect. The hunger for wealth leads Suvorin to start gambling on the 17th-century French card game, Faro.
The captain is then led down a dangerous path, after he hears of a Countess who made a pact and sold her soul to the devil, in exchange for continuous success in Faro. Blinded by greed, Suvorin sets out to pursue Countess Ranevskaya’s ward, Lizaveta, who has no idea of his intentions.
The Queen of Spades Production Notes
The original director of the film fell extremely ill, and at just five days notice Thorold Dickinson was brought in – a suggestion by Anton Walbrook. Dickinson wrote some of the script and brought 1800’s St. Petersburg to life with only a small studio in Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire.
Release and Reception
Released on the 16th of March 1949, The Queen of Spades was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best British Film, as well as entered into the 1949 Cannes Film Festival in France.
The film has recently been warmly received, with famous film director, producer, screenwriter and now actor, Wes Anderson, ranking this film as the 6th best film to come out of Britain and Martin Scorsese describing Dickinson as an underrated director, after classing The Queen of Spades as one of the few honest and classic supernatural drama’s to hit the screens.