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Marlene Dietrich became an immediate international star on the strength of her performance as the temptress Lola Frohlich in Josef von Sternberg's classic tale of love and obsession. Professor Immanuel Rath (Emil Jannings) is a strict and humorless schoolmaster who is shocked when he discovers the boys in his class have been spending their time at a sleazy cabaret called The Blue Angel, where an entertainer named Lola (Dietrich) keeps the men in thrall and sells suggestive postcards of herself. Rath goes to the club in hopes of catching his students and giving them a severe dressing-down, but he instead finds himself entranced by the carefree atmosphere of the club, and is struck by Lola's earthy, sensual beauty. Rath finds himself strongly attracted to Lola, and she later entertains him in her dressing room. When word of Rath's infatuation with Lola spreads to his students, he is taunted mercilessly, and eventually Rath is dismissed from the school. While Lola agrees to marry Rath, she shows little affection for him and delights in humiliating him, making him her servant and forcing him to play a clown in her stage show. The Blue Angel was shot in both German and English language versions; the German is preferable, as most of the cast were obviously more expert in that tongue. Dietrich introduced her theme song, "Falling In Love Again", in this picture. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
This is a story about the devastating effects of a man who lets his heart override his brain. A classic of German cinema, right up there with M and Metropolis, this one directed by Josef von Sternberg. If this film was nothing but the visuals -- sets, lighting, art direction -- it would have still knocked me out. But it is so much more than that.
Emil Jennings plays college professor Immanuel Rath, who find his students in possession of postcards of a sexy cabaret singer. He goes to the club, called the Blue Angel, to confront the woman, named Lola Lola, about her effects on his students. Unfortunately, he falls head over heels for her himself, and his obsession leads to the loss of his career and eventually, his dignity.
It starts comedic at first, with Rath collecting the student's postcards in class, and then later chasing them through the club. But as it goes on Rath loses more and more of his self-worth. When he finally can take no more, being utterly humiliated in front of his hometown, and snaps, it's terrifying to watch. Some of the more memorable scenes are the death of Rath's canary (really), Lola's songs, and the last shot of the film --which I will not give away here -- has stuck with me since I first saw it years and years ago.
One of Marlene Dietrich's first films, she is not the glamour ice goddess of her future -- no severe lighting, no cheekbones, no slinky dresses. She plays Lola as much more earthy and blatantly sexual.. Lola knows her appeal to men and is basically a cocktease. I stil haven't decided if Lola means from the beginning to treat Rath as badly as she does, if she doesn't know any better or just doesn't care.
One interesting thing about this film is seeing what was considered sexy and racy in pre-Hitler Germany. Lola's costumes are very revealing and yet really show nothing, except her undies. One postcard has a photo of Lola with a grass skirt attached to the card that can be blown up to show her stockings and garters. The young men in Rath's class get great entertainment by this activity. It seems so innocent now in this age of teen girls dressing like streetwalkers and thong bathing suits on every beach. Kinda sad really how jaded we've become as a society.
Marlene Dietrich plays a showgirl who ensnares the heart of a college professor (Emil Jannings) in this pre-war german production. The sets are visually expressive, and so is the film itself. The professor is an uptight bachelor, who's disliked by nearly all his students. He seems to be having a miserable life when he meets Marlene, and he eventually falls in love with and decides to give up his life to marry her. He loses his position at the school and follows the show on a tour of nightclubs, taking more and more menial jobs within the show. As the professor suffers, it's not clear what would have made him happy in life, but he's made the clown both literally and figuratively. Marlene the showgirl is so flighty, she jumps from man to man. She finds his earnestly sweet nature to be endearing at first, but soon just sees him as another weak man. Are these characterizations meant to show the dangers of chasing after a morally "loose" woman, or is it an indictment of petty bourgeois repressed sexuality? There's so much that visually and emotionally striking about this powerful film, by the end, the viewer is left stunned.
My first experience watching a film on The Auteurs site. The quality was great. The subtitles were mixed up only a couple times.
I loved it!! The German style cinematography and art decoration. The style that would be lost in Germany and taken to Hollywood when Hitler came to power. This movie takes place from 1925 to 1929 before the Nazis took over. It is a closer to real life look at the same time and culture that Cabaret portrays.
Emil Jannings was the first actor honored with the best actor Academy Award. I have only seen one other performance of his. But it was impressive and so was this role. Dietrich is seductive and husky voiced as Lola, but younger and not as husky voiced as she was in Witness for the Prosecution. The staff at the burlesque club Der Blaue Engel is like a family. Jannings is a professor at a local University and the dynamics of his classroom show that nothing much has changed. Three of his students are regulars at The Blue Angel. Professor Immanuel Rath is the picture of repression and routine. He tries so hard to keep the young men in his class in line and goes himself to the club to kick them out. He is so out of his element at the club and interacting with Lola. These early scenes have a lot of humor. Through chance circumstances he must return to the club and he ends up acting the part of a knight coming to the rescue of the lady's honor, at least the honor he imagines Lola has. Ultimately it is a tragic story, as Rath never finds his backbone and loves/trusts Lola too innocently. He falls into the "family" business, at first selling pinup postcards of his new wife, then inheriting the degrading clown assistant position for the magician/manager.
The dialog as translated in the subtitles surprised me with its natural flow and sophistication. The dialog strongly reveals the attitude of the culture before restrictions, whether from Germany or Hollywood, limited how sexuality particularly could be shown or mentioned in the movies.