Does the name Josef von Sternberg mean anything to you? Well if it does, it’s because he was the filmmaker behind Docks of New York. He’s back with his German-English film classic The Blue Angel. By German-English film, I mean that since dubbing was a hard thing to do back then, the movie had to be filmed twice for each scene to have an English version and a German version. I can’t imagine how much of a pain that must have been to do! Actress and singer Marlene Dietrich‘s overnight success is because of this film about a professor who sees what the deal is about this cabaret singer that’s the subject of many of his male students’ fantasies only to fall for her himself.
So this is a film that shows you how someone in power always faces the risk of being reduced to a hapless clown (no really, a real clown). This film shows the true example of a femme fatale– a woman who brings a man to his downfall through seduction and promise of eternal love, only to use him and ruin his life. That’s basically what Marlene Dietrich’s character does. But this film shows that you really can’t blame her for being that way because she is a cabaret singer. It’s her job to be sexy and beautiful and to be the target in the male audiences’ fantasies. She’s supposed to make all of the men fall in love with her but went too far in letting a man marry her when she didn’t love him back.
The hardest scene for me to watch is when the professor has to work as a clown in order to better support him and Lola Lola. He stands there being taunted in a ridiculous costume having eggs cracked on him while the audience laughs. His position as authority is gone and reduced as a sideshow clown. While the professor, played by Emil Jannings, is supposed to love Marlene Dietrich’s character on screen, their real life connection to each other was the exact opposite. Jannings would get into fights with Dietrich for being jealous of her instant fame and even threatened to strangle her! Want to know more drama that came from this film? Because the married Sternberg and Dietrich were having an affair with each other on set, Sternberg’s wife divorced him not long after the film was released. Quite the scandal!
Watch Marlene Dietrich’s film debut The Blue Angel here or check it out on Amazon Prime: