Driven by Marlene Dietrich’s iconic turn as the deliciously decadent nightclub singer Lola-Lola, The Blue Angel was a scandalous revelation to 1930s audiences, challenging the limits of screen sexuality and launching the German actress/chanteuse into the stratosphere of superstardom.
“Enthralling. The first film collaboration between Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg, this reeks with decay and sexuality.” – Don Druker, Chicago Reader
Emil Jannings (The Last Laugh), the quintessential German expressionist actor, stars as Professor Rath, the sexually-repressed instructor of a boys’ prep school. After learning of the pupils’ infatuation with French postcards depicting a local nightclub songstress, he decides to personally investigate the source of such indecency. But as soon as he enters the shadowy, über-seedy Blue Angel nightclub and steals one glimpse of the smoldering Lola-Lola (Dietrich), commanding the stage in top hat, stockings, and bare thighs, Rath’s self-righteous piety is crushed. He finds himself fatefully seduced by the throaty voice of the wicked siren as she croons what would become Dietrich’s signature song, “Falling in Love Again.” Consumed by desire and tormented by his rigid propriety, Professor Rath allows himself to be dragged down a path of personal degradation and destruction, all for Lola’s personal amusement. Dietrich’s dangerously unrestrained sensuality, the likes of which had not been seen before on the silver screen, caused a sensation and paved the way for her to leap from German cinema to the Hollywood mainstream, all while keeping her mysteriously languid allure firmly intact. (Dir. by Josef von Sternberg, 1930, Germany, in German/English/French with English subtitles, 104 mins., Not Rated)