Outside of Emperor Franz Joseph, there was no member of the Hapsburg dynasty who showed up in films as often as Empress Elizabeth of Austria. Lil Dagover plays the celebrated empress in this film, which deftly combines fact and fiction into one lavish movie package. Though wed to Franz Joseph (Paul Otto) and expected to comport herself in a regal manner, Elizabeth is too much the free spirit to tie herself down to protocol. Escaping the stuffiness of the Austro-Hungarian royal court, she chooses to live a carefree existence among the people. Elizabeth returns to the palace a shade too late to save her unhappy son Crown Prince Rudolf from committing suicide out of love for the beautiful Countess Mary Vetsera (this subplot later served as the basis for the 1937 film Mayerling). Again fleeing her responsibilities Elizabeth wanders aimlessly around the world until her own life is ended by an assassin's bullet. Amazingly, Elisabeth von Oesterreich manages to pack all this into a brisk 74 minutes.
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