Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Blue Angel (1930)

Or, more accurately, Der blaue Engel, as it was the German version I watched.

When unpopular prep school professor (Emil Jannings) learns that some of his students are visiting a cabaret to see a singer (Marlene Dietrich), he visits to catch them in the act. But it's the professor who falls for Lola Lola, and so begins his downfall.

Since Witness for the Prosecution, I've wanted to see something else by the old transvestite. Although it was really a vehicle for Jannings and his quirky mannerisms, this is the film that made her a star. She was the object of desire that the men, and boys, revolved around. She sang her signature song, Falling in Love Again, and hearing it in German was quite jarring. But then again, what isn't in that language.

Dietrich is an interesting study. She was an iconic actress, but not a terribly good one. She was a sex symbol, but nothing special to look at. Had many lovers, but few friends. This movie was banned by the Nazi party, but was a favorite of Hitler's.

The makers filmed the movie twice, once in the native German and again for English audiences. For the English version Marlene learned her lines phonetically and, oddly, spoke without accent. In this version she spoke lyrically and without the Dietrich affection ("I'm so tired ..."). Until her song, at least. I would have preferred the English version so that I could look at the actors rather than the words at the bottom of the screen.

The story, the downfall of a foolish man of some reputation, was well executed. Were it an American movie and the media in better shape, it would be regarded as a top notch film. For my purposes, AMRU 3.5.

Hey, look! The entire move is available on YouTube! That can't be legal!

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