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The Finances of the Grand Duke (1924)


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Editorial Reviews

THE RESTORED AUTHORIZED EDITION

In one of the most eclectic films of the German silent era, visual stylist F.W. Murnau (Faust, Sunrise) broke away from the dark, foreboding dramas for which he was known to explore the realm of light comedy. Working from a screenplay by Thea von Harbou (Spies, Metropolis), Murnau crafted a playful espionage thriller reminiscent of Ernst Lubitsch (who had recently left Germany for Hollywood). Harry Liedtke stars as a benevolent dictator who must preserve the tiny nation of Abacco by fending off creditors, wooing a wealthy Russian princess (Mady Christians), and evading a band of demonic conspirators (including Nosferatu himself, Max Schreck).

With Audio Commentary by Film Historian David Kalat

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Harry Liedtke, Max Schreck
  • Directors: F.W. Murnau
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Silent
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: March 17, 2009
  • Run Time: 77 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001M9ELJO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #217,137 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Finances of the Grand Duke (1924)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brad Baker VINE VOICE on March 21, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A photograph from the production shows Murnau in front of a battleship. He is tall, thin, and angular. He stands next to his crew, close to them, yet also far away. He could not know the glory history had in store for him. Though highly panned by German critics of 1924, "The Finances of the Grand Duke" contains many sumptuous flashes of the Murnau genius. Even if it is a comedy. Filmed on location, and with deft photography by Karl Freund, Murnau proceeds cautiously in this, his only known attempt at sophisticated humor. Sadly, critical reception of the day would keep the Master from ever again stepping into "high comedy". "Finances of the Grand Duke" opens with the "benevolent dictator" of his Grand Dukedom idly
tossing coins from his cliffside palace to a gaggle of young sun-tanned boys in the sea below. Hmmm. But wait. Duke Don Ramon is soon informed that he has no time for trifles! His tiny island nation of Abacco is in the red. Very red. A crafty financier offers the Duke $10 million to sell Point Hermosa. Doesn't he know? It could be converted into a lucrative sulpher pit. But how would that endanger the health of his countrymen? Suddenly, a missive from a swooping plane above delivers redemption in a letter. Russian Princess Olga is wealthy and in love. With the Duke. A boat adventure follows, with the Duke happily celebrating his new benefactress. But Princess Olga meets Philipp Collins, and she is soon misled by his charms. Philipp Collins buys the debt of the floundering Abacco nation; in a bewildering stock market transaction. Princess Olga is informed that the Duke is deposed! Or even murdered! Hounded by an evil crook and his three fiends(including a hunchback), all parties race home to the palace for a final confrontation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kris Marker on December 30, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I got this DVD to replace the one from the box set I sent to the President. Around the time of the debt debate, debacle or whatever you want to call it, I watched this movie on a lark and immediately thought of our top man, thinking that he, like myself, could use a little light diversion from a potential financial doomsday by watching a charming movie about a potential financial doomsday--in another country at another time. I can only hope the movie lightened the commander in chief's day as much as it did mine.

It's a little unfair, I think, to compare this movie with his others. It has a beautifully understated frivolity that was anything but frivolous for Murnau. Yes, it does seem disjointed at times, but then again, from what I read it was "disjointed" and cut down from 120 mins or so. Anyhow, I just enjoyed it. However rough and tumble the movie is it had the power to make me laugh and come away refreshed.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Hounddawg1963 on March 30, 2009
Format: DVD
This is probably the weakest of the surviving Murnau films; after watching this one, its very evident as to why he didn't try comedies again. Lots of characters, very difficult to keep track of who is who and who is supposed to be doing what. And what was supposed to be funny in most cases just wasn't. Fortunately its a very short film at less than 80 minutes; by that time you will be ready for the film to end. The only extra on the dvd is a commentary, obviously Kino didn't want to put a lot of money into this one. If you are looking for an introduction to Murnau's films, don't try this one first, but instead watch his classics such as Nosferatu, Faust, or The Last Laugh.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann on March 25, 2009
Format: DVD
I wish that Amazon had half stars available in their rating system for this film by the great F.W. Murnau is just that. Not quite a four but better than what a three implies. Another reviewer states that the original was two hours long. If that was the case, I don't think the extra length would have helped as this version, at 77 minutes, seems long enough as it is. Sometimes too long.

It would seem that Murnau was trying to make an Ernst Lubitsch like comedy now that Lubitsch had gone to America but it lacks the sparkle necessary to bring that off. With the exception of Alfred Abel (METROPOLIS), the performers are good but not great. It takes a special kind of performance to make this comedy of intrigue work. The scenario is no great shakes either.

The look of the film is what makes the picture worth watching and that's the least you would expect from one of the silent cinema's great visual stylists. The cameraman was Karl Freund who also worked on THE LAST LAUGH and would go on to directing in the 1930s and then to pioneering live TV camerawork on I LOVE LUCY in the 1950s.

This is the weakest of the three Murnau titles just released by Kino International but that doesn't mean that it is not without interest. No Murnau film could be without interest. The other two in the set are THE HAUNTED CASTLE and the restored DVD version of FAUST. They join NOSFERATU, THE LAST LAUGH, and TARTUFFE (already released) as part of a 6 DVD set although you can buy them separately.
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