Back Blue Angel, The
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Tuesday, 30 December 2014 at 7.15 pm
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  • Drama
  • 1930
  • Germany
  • B&W
  • 106 mins.
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Marlene Dietrich introduced her theme song "Falling in Love Again" and shot to international fame on the strength of her performance as seductress Lola Frohlich in Josef von Sternberg's classic story of love and obsession. Strict Professor Immanuel Rath is outraged to discover that the boys in his class are frequenting a notorious cabaret called The Blue Angel. He goes to the club with the intention of turning them out, only to fall under the spell of sensuous showgirl Lola who will transform his life.

Among the first enduringly great movies of the sound era, The Blue Angel was made simultaneously in German and English versions by the 35-year-old Viennese-born Hollywood director Josef von Sternberg. The great German character actor Emil Jannings, who'd won the first ever Oscar for best actor under Sternberg's direction in The Last Command (1928), insisted on Sternberg being brought to Berlin for his first talking film.

This turned out to be The Blue Angel (based on a novel by Thomas Mann's brother Heinrich), in which Jannings gives an exquisitely detailed performance as the pompous, middle-aged Professor Rath, a high-school teacher whose life is destroyed through his romantic infatuation with Lola Lola, a wilful young singer he meets at the eponymous nightclub. Sternberg cast the little-known Marlene Dietrich as the mercurial enchantress, a role that brought her world stardom and took her to the States, where Sternberg shaped her persona in six further films.

Superbly designed and lit, The Blue Angel is a modern tragedy and an erotic masterpiece with fine songs by Friedrich Holländer (among them Dietrich's signature number, Falling in Love Again). Endless scenes etch themselves on the mind.

Philip French

The Observer, 10 March 2013


Josef von Sternberg


Carl Zuckmayer, Karl Vollmöller, Robert Liebmann, from the novel "Professor Unrat" by Heinrich Mann. Music; Frederich Holländer.


Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich, Kurt Gerron, Rosa Valette, Hans Albers, Eduard Von Winterstein, Reinholt Bernt, Hans Roth

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