The Grand Duke's Finances

The Grand Duke's Finances (German: Die Finanzen des Großherzogs) is a 1924 silent German comedy film directed by F. W. Murnau.[1]

The Grand Duke's Finances
Film poster
Directed byF. W. Murnau
Produced byErich Pommer
Written byFrank Heller
Thea von Harbou
Fritz Wendhausen
StarringHarry Liedtke
Mady Christians
CinematographyKarl Freund
Franz Planer
Distributed byUFA
Release date
  • 7 January 1924 (1924-01-07)
Running time
80 minutes
CountryWeimar Republic
German intertitles


The Grand Duke of Abacco is heir to a small and heavily indebted Mediterranean island. The Grand Duke is trying to hide from usurer Marcowitz who demands debt repayment. One hope to improve the situation would be a wedding with the Russian Grand Duchess Olga who sent him a letter saying she is determined to marry him despite not knowing him and against the opposition of her brother the Crown Prince of Russia. Businessman Bekker offers a substantial sum of money to exploit a sulphur mine but the Grand Duke is worried it would have negative effects on his subjects. Bekker joins with local conspirators to organise a revolution against the Grand Duke. In addition, the letter from Grand Duchess Olga is fraudulently obtained by Marcowitz.

Thief-detective Phillip Collin, passing as Professor Pelotard, accepts to retrieve from Markowitz incriminating letters written by Congressman Isaac. In the process, he also finds the letter from Grand Duchess Olga and replaces it with a fake. He asks Isaac for a 50,000 pound loan as his fee and tells him that he will use it to speculate on Abacco's debt. The Grand Duke decides to go secretly to the continent to retrieve Olga's letter.

Phillip Collin meets an unknown woman in a café, who asks him to help her hide from her pursuers. He willingly obliges and soon finds out that she is Grand Duchess Olga and that her pursuer is her brother.

The newspapers report on the speculation on Abacco's bonds, on the outbreak of a revolution in Abacco and on the disappearance of the Grand Duke. All regular voyages to Abacco are interrupted but Olga, who now passes as Collins' wife, manages to charter a ship to take her to Abacco island. She accepts to take along the Grand Duke, whom she has not recognised, and who introduced himself as a supporter of the Grand Duke. Marcowitz boards the Russian Crown Prince's warship and convinces him to go to Abacco by showing him his sister's (fake) letter.

In Abacco the Grand Duke and Collin overcome the self-proclaimed president and his accomplices after a short fight. However further revolutionaries overpower the Grand Duke and start preparing his hanging. Olga now understands who he is and wants to buy him off the revolutionaries, without success. At that moment, the Russian Crown Prince take control of the situation with his sailors. However, he is also inclined to have the Grand Duke hanged, for having sold his sister's letter. However Olga dismisses the letter as clumsy forgery. Collin gives back the authentic letter to the Grand Duke which allows him to refute the accusation. The Crown Prince orders an immediate marriage and Collin celebrates the success of his speculation on Abacco's debt.[2]


In alphabetical order

Production and release

The film is based on the eponymous novel by Swedish author Frank Heller adapted by Thea von Harbou. It was shot from May to August 1923 at UFA's Tempelhof Studios in Berlin, on the sets built by Rochus Gliese and Erich Czerwonski. The on-location scenes were shot on the Adriatic coast in Split, Kotor, Zadar and Rab.

The film premièred in Berlin on 7 January 1924 at the Ufa-Palast am Zoo. It is the only comedy directed by F. W. Murnau.


  1. "Progressive Silent Film List: The Grand Duke's Finances". Silent Era. Retrieved 4 November 2008.
  2. Review, synopsis and link to watch the film: "A cinema history". Retrieved 24 March 2016.
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