I had not seen BLONDE VENUS for a very long time. Also: I used to, uh, tipple. Heavily. I remembered the gorilla outfit, naturally. You literally cannot forget the gorilla outfit. I remembered BV as a sucrose-heavy camp confection. As well I might have! The most blatant (subversive) attempt by von Sternberg to mount a Dietrich vehicle beholden to "woman's picture" templates. Its emotional power sneaks up on you.
Sternberg and Dietrich were a power couple from Germany that made six films together, with Blonde Venus being my personal favorite by far. Merlene plays the night club singer/dancer that runs away from her wealthy man with their son. Part-fun night club Hollywood glamor/musical, and part strong unstoppable independent woman doing whatever the hell she wants.
Classic melodrama from director Josef von Sternberg with an iconic turn by Marlene Dietrich. Dietrich's portrayal of a woman who makes sacrifices to save her husband only to have him spurn her for infidelity is a wonder to behold. Beautifully shot and constructed throughout visually married with a solid pre-code script.
A pesar de que aún no entraba en orden el Código Hays, esta película de Sternberg anula con cuidado esos instantes "embarazosos" sobre una mujer llevando una vida cuestionable para la moral. "La venus rubia" pueda que sea memorable por ser un drama social sobre una sobrevivencia o la pobreza.
Not the best Dietrich-Sternberg, but it occupies a special place because while she's usually paired with boring lunks, here she's opposite Herbert Marshall and Cary Grant, who can't help but be interesting. Of course, she steamrolls them, her eyes reacting to every little irony of the roles women have to play. A parable of parenthood, for a society that can't accept the mother and the whore might be the same person.
Fairly non-b&w characterizations, but a lot more straightforward both stylistically and in content in my opinion than the better Sternberg/Dietrich collaborations. Without Dietrich this would have been forgotten ages ago, and the string of clichés and the dud of an ending would be pointed out by a lot more people.
von Sternberg and Dietrich consistently killing the game. Dietrich never cast in a light that is inherently condemning. I found this to be a pretty reasonable approach to the ambiguities regarding faithfulness, a mother's and wife's love, what it means to be a woman at the behest of patriarchy, cruelty by those spurned and ego. not my favorite of their collaborations thus far, still absolutely lovely.
It's clear to me now that Sternberg only makes masterpieces, damn the imperfections(I have not found any thus far). A baroque style serves as a revolutionary mean to a revolutionary end. Wood states this as the central Sternberg/Dietrich theme: " How does a woman, and at what cost, assert herself within an overwhelmingly male-dominated world?" Sternberg: a materialist, modernist, feminist image-maker.
Blonde Venus is perhaps the nuttiest of the films with Dietrich, where the plot is reduced to a string of cliches, the locales reduced to stereotype, & even the passional conflict between value & instinct, still so unmediated in Morocco ironized: an automatism like the broken porcelain carousel of the last shot? The entire interest is displaced onto gesture divorced from motivation, onto props, eyes, shadows & masks.
A "von Sternberg-ian" fairy tale of sorts, where a relationship has a storybook genesis and is then renewed at the recounting of the tale. OF course, every step of the way, things unfold with von Sternberg's visual flourishes. And while his films can sometimes be accused of lack of character development, I love how in this one everyone seems be both sympathetic and contemptible at times. Highly recommended.