Angel in Blue

Still on the birthday of YouTube… it amazes me to be able to find stuff -- most of the time quite serendipitously -- like this ancient film clip. Even more amazing to be able to share these finds with you here.

This is actually Marlene Dietrich’s screen test for the role of Lola-Lola -- the part that would make her an international star -- in Josef von Sternberg’s Der blaue Engel – that’s The Blue Angel to you and me.

It’s a breathtaking clip. Remember as you watch that this is 1929. The technology of sound in film is in its infancy. (Which is one of the reasons that at this time in Hollywood the town is being blown away in a -- mostly crappy -- hurricane of musicals.) What you see in this test is a sophistication of performance beyond the simple broad strokes seen in some material from this period.

Dietrich and von Sternberg would make seven movies together. Morocco (1930) the only film for which Dietrich would be nominated for an Oscar, Dishonored (1931), Shanghai Express (1932), Blonde Venus (1932), The Scarlet Empress (1934) and The Devil is a Woman (1935).


Clea Simon said…
I love how the innocence of the song, that smile, and that trill are all undercut by the Marlene sexiness, especially when she gets angry. Amazing clip.

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