Austrian-American filmmaker Josef von Sternberg began his directorial career in the US, where he made a number of films that proved critically, but not commercially, successful. To the frustration of cinephiles everywhere, one of these projects was a film with Charlie Chaplin that the actor himself, unhappy with the result, destroyed, and is now considered lost.
Offered the opportunity to make Germany’s first talkie by Berlin’s UFA studio, von Sternberg launched Marlene Dietrich to international fame with The Blue Angel, a collaborative relationship that would produce a further six films from American studios.
In this classic tale of Weimar-era Germany, Dietrich plays the alluring Lola, headliner at the titular cabaret club, whose eroticism and beauty first captivate but ultimately cause the utter ruin and humiliation of a local schoolteacher (Emil Jannings, whose own career would have a similarly ignominious end).
(Notes by Kevin Coyne.)
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