The King Steps Out

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The King Steps Out
Directed byJosef von Sternberg
Written bySidney Buchman
CinematographyLucien Ballard
Edited byViola Lawrence
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • May 28, 1936 (1936-05-28)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited States
The film is based around Elisabeth's young years 1852–1854 (portrait of the young empress shortly after her wedding, by Amanda Bergstedt)

The King Steps Out is a 1936 American light comedy film directed by Josef von Sternberg based on the early years of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, known as "Sisi" or "Sissi", and her courtship and marriage to Franz Joseph I of Austria, after he was initially engaged to her older sister Duchess Helene in Bavaria.[1] The film is set from 1852 to 1854.

The script was written by Sidney Buchman, based on a theatre play called Sissys Brautfahrt by Ernst Décsey and Robert Weil aka Gustav Holm.[2] Columbia Pictures bought the rights from Ernst Marischka in order to make the film. The lyrics for the music were by Dorothy Fields and the music by Viennese composer and violinist Fritz Kreisler.[1] Cinematography was by Lucien Ballard and the editing by Viola Lawrence. Costume design was by the Austrian Ernst Deutsch-Dryden.

Future Broadway dancer Gwen Verdon made her movie debut doing a ballet solo at age 11, but was uncredited.

The film had only minimal influence on the later Sissi trilogy from the 1950s by Ernst Marischka starring Romy Schneider and Karlheinz Böhm.



Writing for The Spectator in 1936, Graham Greene gave the film a mildly positive review, noting that in its "light and amusing sequences" it bore the hallmarks of "the Lubitsch touch". Greene praised the acting of Bing, claiming that "the whole film [is carried] on his wildly expressive shoulders".[3]


  1. ^ a b Nugent, Frank S. (May 29, 1936). "Grace Moore's First Operetta, 'The King Steps Out,' Opens at the Music Hall -- 'Florida Special' at the Rialto". The New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  2. ^ Baxter, John (2010). Von Sternberg. University Press of Kentucky p. 198. ISBN 978-0-8131-3994-4.
  3. ^ Greene, Graham (October 9, 1036). "The Texas Rangers/Savoy Hotel 217/The King Steps Out". The Spectator. (reprinted in: Taylor, John Russell, ed. (1980). The Pleasure Dome. p. 108. ISBN 0192812866.)

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