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Saturday Night Cinema: Anna Karenina (1948)


Tonight’s Saturday Night Cinema presentation is the 1948 adaption of Anna Karenina, starring the transcendent Vivian Leigh playing the iconic Anna.

In this 1948 adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel, Vivien Leigh plays the title role, a 19th-century Russian gentlewoman married to Czarist official Ralph Richardson. Though her marriage is not intolerable, Anna is swept off her feet by dashing young military officer Vronsky. The ensuing scandal ruins Anna’s status in society.

It is a sort of “exquisitely sumptuous misfire,” to quote one critic, but it’s still quite great. I think critics were tough on Leigh because they compared her performance to the actress who previously played Karenina: Greta Garbo.

If you haven’t seen this adaption produced by Sir Alexander Korda for London Film Productions, do.

Superb film version of the Tolstoy novel, with an extraordinary Vivien Leigh at the peak of her beauty and talent.
January 13, 2006
Phil Hall

The NY Times’ Bosley Crowther was less enthusiastic:

….in this clearly sub-arctic rendering of Tolstoy’s titanic tale about the nineteenth-century Russian lady who loved, unwisely, too much of a swell, the whole rash accumulation of her love for the Count has been brushed in and her fall for this dashing young guardsman is about as convincing as a slap on the wrist. Likewise, her later desolation at her lover’s evasions and neglect seem to have no more passion in it than a sigh over the wilting of a flower.

On the other hand, Anna’s exchanges with her selfish, neglectful spouse often achieve the intensity of the temperature in a deep-freeze. Cold, bitter splinters of frustration rifle the air between them, and whatever there is of commentary on social rigidness is in these scenes.

The only apparent explanation for this curious shift of interest in the film is the obvious inequality of the performers in the key roles. Miss Leigh, of course, might manage to turn on the steam either way—although she does seem surprisingly lacking in romantic vitality at those times when a slight bit of extra pressure would be greatly appreciated by all. But Kieron Moore, a new Irish actor, is so plainly inadequate in the role of the supposedly irresistible Count Vronsky that disinterest can be understood. Lantern-jawed and peculiarly vapid, Mr. Moore plays a hot-shot Muscovite with all the romantic fierceness of one of those uniformed ushers at the Roxy’s door.

In contrast, Ralph Richardson’s performance as the husband of the faithless heroine is a beautiful piece of illustration of the qualities of cold pomposity. Saturnine, rigid, punctilious, he displays in his every scene precisely those characteristics which drive Anna to rebellion and despair. In fact, so emphatic and superior is Mr. Richardson’s job that it is not at all surprising that he should seem the center in the piece and that Miss Leigh should slowly disintegrate into a whining, maudlin, vain, self-pitying dame.

Unfortunately, this shift of interest does not in any way tend to a fuller understanding of the characters in Tolstoy’s book—nor, indeed, of the practical reasons why Sir Alex made this film. The rest of the cast, while magnificent in Cecil Beaton costumes and against expensive Russian scenery, is British to the core and contributes little more in the way of personality than a confusion of indistinguishable Russian names. Mr. Duvivier’s direction keeps them all in a slow, aimless whirl.



ANNA KARENINA, screen play by Jean Anoulih, Guy Morgan and Julien Duvivier based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy; directed by Julien Duvivier; produced by Sir Alexander Korda for London Film Productions and released by Twentieth Century-Fox. At the Roxy.
Anna Karenina . . . . . Vivien Leigh
Karenin . . . . . Ralph Richardson
Count Vronsky . . . . . Kieron Moore
Stepan Oblonsky . . . . . Hugh Dempster
Dolly Oblonsky . . . . . Mary Kerridge
Princess Shcherbatsky . . . . . Marie Lohr
Prince Shcherbatsky . . . . . Frank Tickle
Kitty Shcherbatsky . . . . . Sally Ann Howes
Levin . . . . . Niall MacGinnis
Nikolai . . . . . Michael Gough
Princess Betsy Tverskoy . . . . . Martita Hunt
Countess Lydia Ivanovna . . . . . Heather Thatcher
Countess Vronsky . . . . . Helen Haye
Princess Natalia . . . . . Mary Martlew
Countess Mezhkov . . . . . Ruby Miller
Colonel Vronsky . . . . . Austin Trevor
Prince Makhotin . . . . . Guy Verney
Lawyer . . . . . John Salew
Enrico . . . . . Gino Cervi
Giuseppe . . . . . Jeremy Spencer

  • livingengine

    The reviews are in! Counter Jihad Magazine is a hit . . . a palpable hit.
    “. . . make a hundred of these videos . . . ”
    ” . . . call the cops . . ”
    ” . . . I’m reporting this . . .”
    ” . . insane . . . ”

  • chris wolf

    Tolstoy is above my pay grade.
    Margaret Mitchell sticks to the action.
    David O. Selznick made good of his amphetamine abuse.
    Barbara Stanwyck is my favorite actress and Vivien Leigh is even better.
    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a more mercurial and evocative performance than Vivien Leigh’s in “Waterloo Bridge.”

  • WarEagle82

    Dieser Film ist ein wunderbarer Film, sondern Ihren Link ist auf Deutsch, und es ist schwer zu folgen und die deutschen Untertitel nicht korrekt sind viel von der Zeit.

  • EJO

    Soldiers Will Stand Guard at Tomb of Unknowns Through Historic Storm

    From Luis Martinez writing at ABC News:

    The snowstorm bearing down on the nation’s capital is not stopping the small group of soldiers who continually stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Much as they did during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Tomb Sentinels will brave the elements to continue guarding the hallowed memorial.

    Since April 6, 1948, Tomb Sentinels from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment’s “The Old Guard”have guarded the Tomb for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year regardless of the weather.

    “These guys will be out in the snow, no matter what,” said Major Russell Fox, a spokesman for the Army’s Old Guard. “They love what they’re doing and they’re dedicated.”

    And while the rest of Washington may be dreading the storm, Fox said; “a lot of the guys are looking forward to this and kind of excited about it.”

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  • EJO
  • EJO

    Breitbart London:

    The Dutch debate on refugees and asylum seekers has come to this.

    Firebrand lawmaker Geert Wilders handing out self-defense sprays to women fearful of what he describes as “Islamic testosterone bombs” in the wake of the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Cologne.

    Wilders, surrounded by bodyguards and police, visited a market in the largely blue-collar town of Spijkenisse on Saturday to hand out the sprays, which contained red paint. Amid stalls selling vegetables, fish, flowers and bicycle parts, Wilders got a rock-star welcome from dozens of supporters.

  • spacearcadian

    that story resume very much of what is wrong with the west, women have it everything, but then she is just bored, dissatisfied, then she wants divorce, then she wants to vote, then she wants to be politician, then she ruins an entire continent like Merkel is doing

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