The Queen of Spades (1949 film)

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The Queen of Spades
File:The Queen of Spades FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Thorold Dickinson
Produced by Anatole de Grunwald
Written by Alexander Pushkin (story)
Rodney Ackland
Arthur Boys
Starring Anton Walbrook
Edith Evans
Yvonne Mitchell
Cinematography Otto Heller
De Grunwald Productions for Associated British Picture Corporation
Distributed by Associated British-Pathe (UK)
Republic Pictures (US)
Release dates
  • 16 March 1949 (1949-03-16) (London)
  • 30 June 1949 (1949-06-30) (USA)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office £107,250 (UK)[1]

The Queen of Spades (1949) is a fantasy-horror film based on a short story of the same name by Alexander Pushkin. It stars Anton Walbrook, Edith Evans and Yvonne Mitchell. Although Evans and Mitchell were both experienced stage actors, this was their cinematic debut.[2]


Captain Herman Suvorin (Anton Walbrook) is a Russian soldier in St Petersburg in 1806. He comes from a working class background, and is consequently spurned by his wealthier fellow officers. Suvorin begins gambling, playing the card game Faro. He is told of an aged countess (Edith Evans), who allegedly sold her soul to the devil in exchange for success in playing Faro. Suvorin seduces her ward (Yvonne Mitchell) as part of a plan to learn the countess's secret of success.


The story was adapted from a short story of the same name by Alexander Pushkin, with a script written by Arthur Boys and Rodney Ackland. The original director of the film left the project after suffering from poor health, and was replaced by Thorold Dickinson, who also rewrote sections of the script.[3]

The film was shot at Welwyn Studios in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, using sets created by William Kellner.[3]

Release and reception

Despite a limited budget, it was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best British Film. It was also entered into the 1949 Cannes Film Festival.[4]

The film was once thought lost, but was rediscovered and later re-released in British cinemas on 26 December 2009. It was released on Region 2 DVD in January 2010.[3]

Wes Anderson ranked it as the sixth best British film.[5] Martin Scorsese has described Thorold Dickinson as an underrated director, saying of The Queen of Spades that "this stunning film is one of the few true classics of supernatural cinema."[3]



  1. Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p489
  2. "The Queen of Spades (1949)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Tale of luckless director dealt bad hand". The Herald. 24 December 2009. 
  4. "Festival de Cannes: The Queen of Spades". Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  5. "100 Best British Films: Directors". Retrieved 2012-10-14. 

External links