The Queen of Spades

The One Who Draws the Queen of Spades Will Inherit Bad Luck

The Queen of Spades is a 1960 film adaptation of the opera Queen of Spades. The story, the Queen of Spades, was written by Alexandr Pushkin in 1833 in Boldino, and was the base for Tchaikovsky’s opera written in 1890. The story and opera have been filmed various times, the earliest and probably the most notable being the 1949 version.

The Story of the Film

The story of Queen of Spades is about Hermann, a German officer in the Imperial Russian Army. One night a friend, Tomsky, tells the story of his grandmother, an elderly Countess. Many years ago, she lost a fortune at cards, and then won it back with the secret of three winning cards, which she had learned from the notorious Count of St Germain. Hermann, who has never before gambled, becomes obsessed with the idea of obtaining the secret.

The elderly Countess has a young ward, Lize. Hermann writes love letters to Liza, and persuades her to let him into the house. Hermann accosts the old Countess, demanding to know the secret. She refuses, Hermann draws a pistol, and the old Countess dies of fright. Hermann flees to Lize’s apartment, and confesses to killing the Countess of fright with his unloaded pistol. He then escapes, but Lize is disgusted with him, as all his protestations of love were only a mask for greed.

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The Secret Three Cards

Hermann attends the funeral of the Countess, and is terrified to see her open her eyes in the coffin and look at him. Later that night, the ghost of the Countess appears, and names three cards. They are three, seven and Ace. He is then told by the Countess that he must play just once each night. Hermann takes his life’s savings to a salon where wealthy mean gamble for high stakes. The first night he bets it all on the three and wins. The next night he bets it all on the seven and wins. The third night he bets on the ace, but finds when the cards are shown that he has bet on the Queen of Spades rather than the ace. He loses everything. The Queen of Spades, who looks like the old Countess, appears to wink at him, and he rushes away in fright. Hermann eventually goes mad and is committed to an asylum, and Lize marries a state official. In the hospital he does not speak, except to mutter repeatedly, ”Three, seven Ace! Three seven queen!”

The Old Game of Faro

The old fashioned game of faro was the game played by the old Countess in Queen of Spades. Faro is a gambling game that was popular in the late seventeenth century, and belongs to the Monte Bank family of card games, due to the use of a banker and several players. Winning or losing depends on whether the cards turned up by the banker match those already exposed. It is not directly related to poker, but was extremely popular, as it was a fast game, the rules were easy to learn, and the odds were better than most games of chance. Faro is played with only one deck of cards, and any number of players can take part.

Faro was the most widespread gambling game in the United States in the nineteenth century, all but disappearing, however, during the middle of the twentieth century. It was probably the forerunner of baccarat, the popular modern casino game.