Safeguarded by Langlois in the 1950s and restored in 1983, Queen Kelly is one of the most infamous unfinished film maudits in history. Erich von Stroheim’s masterpiece was originally funded by Gloria Swanson’s production company until shooting shut down for good in 1929. In a debauched Central European kingdom, a mad queen must wed a notorious libertine, who instead falls for a young nun (Swanson). “Queen Kelly takes us into a world that would have definitely disappeared without Stroheim . . . a perverse world, crueller than Sade’s, a vanished world of which Stroheim brought out the phantoms,” wrote Langlois. “Queen Kelly takes us into a universe of incest and solemn boredom, degeneracy and absolute power, complacency and complicities left unpunished, a universe made for creating monsters, semi-madmen, victims, slaves, valets.”
Directed and Written by Erich von Stroheim. Produced by Gloria Productions for United Artists. Photographed by Gordon Pollock and Paul Ivano. Edited by Viola Lawrence. Music by Adolph Tandler. With Gloria Swanson, Seena Owen, Walter Byron, Sylvia Ashton, Tully Marshall. (1928-29/1985, 90 mins, 35mm, Silent with music track, 35mm, Print courtesy Kino International) *All net proceeds from this event benefit the University Art Museum's Pacific Film Archive and may be matched by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Louis B. Mayer Foundation.