cast: Marlene Dietrich, and Emil Jannings
director: Josef von Sternberg
94/106 minutes (PG) 1930
Eureka DVD Region 2 retail
Also available to buy on video
[released 23 September]
reviewed by Peter Schilling
A classic slice of German cinema from between the world wars, von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel (aka: Der Blaue Engel) is one of the great dramas about falling from grace. It made an international star of Marlene Dietrich, and has been badly remade (in 1959), and ripped off by softcore porn video makers countless times.
Emil Jannings plays the upright Professor Rath, captivated by sultry nightclub singer Lola-Lola (Dietrich), and dismissed in disgrace from his teaching position at college after students have made public his dalliance with the sexy Lola down at the disreputable Blue Angel sleaze-pit. Continued infatuation leads to loveless marriage and the pompous prof’s complete moral debasement when he is literally and metaphorically reduced to the role of a mentally defective clown.
“Watch out for blondes.” Despite some tragicomic moments, this is a genuinely fascinating morality play of sexual anxiety and the decline of a bourgeois man, heightened considerably by the use of some expressionist set designs, and robust, yet mesmerising, performances from both leads.
This special edition DVD (fully restored and digitally re-mastered) features both English dubbed and subtitled versions – the German language cut is longer by 12 minutes.