Silents at the Senate Presents: Gloria Swanson in Queen Kelly (1932)

Senate Theater

6424 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, MI 48210

From $12.00

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Sat. Feb. 17 

Doors – 7:00 PM 

Film – 8:00 PM 

Tickets - $12 

1hr 11min | NR | Drama/Romance | United States 

Live Organ Accompaniment by Lance Luce 



Depravity seizes upon poverty as extravagance collides with innocence in Queen Kelly,

a silent drama of doomed romance, presented with live musical accompaniment by Lance Luce on the Senate’s Mighty Wurlitzer theater organ! This incomplete but still captivating exercise in cinematic excess from director/screenwriter Erich von Stroheim proves that even an unfinished work from a master is still a masterwork. 

Co-produced by and starring Gloria Swanson, one of the silent era's biggest stars, what survives of the film tells the story of a playboy aristocrat who balks at his betrothal to his mad queen. On the eve of the marriage, he falls for an enchanting and fiery convent girl (Swanson) and then schemes to possess her, no matter the cost.  

In its existing form, the film presents a meticulously realized world in beautiful detail, a simple but sumptuous tale of worlds colliding—an ill-fated meeting that ends, (spoiler) in tragedy.  

But the epic and transgressive melodrama that could have been was never completed, itself a victim of incompatibility. But rather than a clash of class and circumstance, what doomed Queen Kelly from reaching its potential was the battle between art and business, the vision of an auteur versus censorship. 

Silents at the Senate is proud to present the 1932 release of this almost lost piece of silent film history!

Released only in Europe well into the “talkie” period, this is the most concise and cinematically pure version of the film. It features the so-called “Swanson” ending, filmed after the dismissal of Stroheim and shot two years after the abrupt end to the production due to massive cost overruns and the directors’ efforts to skirt the demands of censors. 


The Senate Theater and The Detroit Theater Organ Society is supported by The Michigan Arts and Culture Council and The National Endowment for the Arts. 

Parking is available in a gated parking lot on Gilbert St., behind the theater.


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An event can only be canceled by the venue and/or event organizer. If the venue or event organizer cancels an event, you will be refunded within 4 business days of the event date for your purchase.

Silents at the Senate Presents: Gloria Swanson in Queen Kelly (1932) poster
Senate Theater
6424 Michigan Avenue
Detroit, MI 48210