Queen Kelly | Chicago Reader

Queen Kelly

Erich von Stroheim's 1928 film was the last that he would be allowed to sign, yet it, too, survives only in a fragmentary version. The story of a convent girl who is romanced by a prince but ends up as the mistress of an African bordello, it was intended to run for five hours, but producer Joseph P. Kennedy (who financed the film as a showcase for his close friend Gloria Swanson) turned off the money at the midway point, and the film was released in a truncated 70-minute version. (Two reels of the African footage, shot but never incorporated into the original prints, were discovered some years ago and spliced into the present 101-minute version.) Though it's far from coherent, Queen Kelly is one of Stroheim's most provocative works, not just in terms of its extravagant subject matter but in the aesthetic shift it suggests between the fierce realism of Stroheim's earlier work and a distant, abstract perspective that points to the cinema of Josef von Sternberg. With Walter Byron and Seena Owen.



  • Erich von Stroheim


  • Gloria Swanson
  • Walter Byron
  • Seena Owen
  • Tully Marshall
  • Madame Sul Te Wan
  • Wilson Benge
  • Sidney Bracey
  • William von Brincken
  • Gordon Westcott


  • Joseph P. Kennedy
  • Gloria Swanson

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