Queen of Spades


Director: Yakov Protazanov

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Adapting the 1833 tale by Aleksandr Pushkin, Queen of Spades (Pikovaya Dama, 1916) shows us an aged countess (Yelizaveta Shebueva) with insomnia. Sitting up through the night, she begins to hallucinate, dream, or vividly remember an affair of youth (with Tamara Duvan as the young countess).

Queen of SpadesAt the moment of a the hallucinated tryst, she is suddenly lucid, no longer young but a hag, with no lover at all coming by the secret passage behind the wall.

Instead, a soldier named Hermann (Ivan Mozzhukhin) has intruded upon her because he has learned of her power to foretell three cards, which skill he desires to use at a gaming table.

When she does not speak, perhaps only because she has become feeble minded, he threatens her with pistol. She dies of a heart attack & the soldier slips away disappointed that he cannot take advantage of her rumored ability.

Shortly thereafter, the ghost of the countess comes to Hermann, & says, "Three, Seven, & Ace are the winning cards."

At the club with wealthy gamblers, at which he has only recently become a client, our villainous protagonist on his first night stakes all on Three & wins. On the second night, staking all on Seven, he wins larger. On the third night he is expected, & wagers all on a single Ace.

An ace wins indeed, but it is his opponent's ace, & our villain is holding the Queen of Spaces. The face of the Queen of Spaces is that of the Countess. Hermann is soonafter insane, still haunted by the Countess, residing in a mental asylum playing with invisible cards.

Satan ExultantFrom the same director is Satan Exultant; aka, Satan Triumphant (Satana Likuyushchiy, 1917). It survives only as a fragment.

The tale opens on a stormy night. Pastor Talnox (Ivan Mosjoukine or Mozzhukin) & his family are terrified by the lightning. It is during just such a storm that Satan rises to the earth.

A limping stranger (Alexandr Chabrov) comes to the door of the parsonage. Claiming his leg is sprained, he wheedles shelter from the pastor.

The visitor attempts to get the pastor to share wine. He's overly friendly to the pastor's sister. And he refuses to attend the pastor's church.

The pastor's sister's husband decides to do a portrait of their guest, whom the pastor has begun to suspect is the evil Tempter, Cataha, or Satan.

In a local antique shop, the pastor with his sister & her husband spot an old portrait painting that appears to be of the same man who has been staying with them. But that portrait is two-hundred years old.

Pastor Talnox is overcome with a desire to own the portrait, & cannot get it out of his mind. But here alas the fragment ends abruptly.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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