Ivan the Terrible (Parts I & II) (1944)
Director: Sergei Eisenstein
The advent of sound was a largely a boon for the film industry, but any film buff will tell you that it destroyed the careers of many who couldn't quite change their approach to films with sound. While my experience of Eisenstein was limited to Battleship Potemkin, that film was such a great expression of the power of silent films that I had looked forward to seeing more of his work. Ivan, with its attempt to tell a historical story based on characters, is so different from Battleship, that I almost cannot believe the two are by the same director.
Few people would call Ivan the Terrible a good film, based on modern sensibilities, and even for the time it came out, it feels incredibly dated. There is no subtlety to the performances: the baddies are all shifty-eyes and murderous scowls, and the 'good' characters leave little impression (I can't remember any except Ivan's wife). Ivan's move from young, ambitious Tsar, to hooked-nosed brutality is told with no depth; the cartooning of his form passes for character development. If there is anything of value to the film, it is the composition of several shots, which occasionally recall German Expressionism; and some of the images, like the newly crowned Ivan being showered in gold coins, are memorable.
However, this is really only a film (or two films if you want to get techinical) for film history completists, or film list completists (1001 Movies, Roger Ebert Great Films, and They Shoot Pictures Lists all have this on them). It is not a good film, but sometimes it is good to watch something terrible (pun definitely intended) in order to appreciate greatness.