Marlene Dietrich

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Marlene Dietrich

Post by charliechaplinfan »

I did have my suspicions Libertine, I was pretty sure you weren't German but thought you were from a country that either spoke the language or was perhaps used to it as a second language. My brother at the moment lives in Prague, his girlfriend is from Madeburg (hope I got that one right) he teaches English as a foreign language and travels around as the jobs dictate. We are holidaying near the Austrian border in a month or two, near to Salzburg, any hints or tips for travel would be useful. If you haven't guessed already, I'm English.

Now I understand why you started with Marlene, who else :) I'm glad you've filled in the gap about Marlene's sister, Spoto's book just says that she denied her and nothing more, I knew there must have been a reason. Perhaps her sister's close links to the Nazi's made Marlene work all the harder during the during the war. It's interesting that two sisters could have very different idealogy and still stay friends. It must have been very different looking at Germany from the safety of the US to actually living within the regime, perhaps with that in mind Marlene forgave her sister and her homeland.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
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JackFavell
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Re: Marlene Dietrich

Post by JackFavell »

I always read that she denied her due to Nazi connections of the husband, sister was unapologetic for them.
Libertine
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Re: Marlene Dietrich

Post by Libertine »

charliechaplinfan wrote:I did have my suspicions Libertine, I was pretty sure you weren't German but thought you were from a country that either spoke the language or was perhaps used to it as a second language. My brother at the moment lives in Prague, his girlfriend is from Madeburg (hope I got that one right) he teaches English as a foreign language and travels around as the jobs dictate. We are holidaying near the Austrian border in a month or two, near to Salzburg, any hints or tips for travel would be useful. If you haven't guessed already, I'm English.
Oh, glad you didn't think I am German. We Austrians are not... really... pleased if anyone mistakes us for German. ;)

Yes, I noticed you're from the UK. :wink: Nice country. I visited it only in April. I do not live near Salzburg, but near Vienna.. yet, tips or hints.. it depends on, if you want hints for Salzburg itself, or if you want any hints for any beautiful places in the area. Maybe we should exchange PM's in order to not hijack the MD thread? hehe

charliechaplinfan wrote:Now I understand why you started with Marlene, who else :)
You know,. I've read some books about her already several years ago. Like the Riva book in 2003, the Bach book in 2007, etc. Actually I started with Tallulah, but I didn't watch her movies at the same time... so, yes, maybe we could say I started with Marlene, but to be honest I just did, because I was going to visit a friend and with him Berlin and Marlene. I wanted to be prepared. ;)
charliechaplinfan wrote: I'm glad you've filled in the gap about Marlene's sister, Spoto's book just says that she denied her and nothing more, I knew there must have been a reason. Perhaps her sister's close links to the Nazi's made Marlene work all the harder during the during the war. It's interesting that two sisters could have very different idealogy and still stay friends. It must have been very different looking at Germany from the safety of the US to actually living within the regime, perhaps with that in mind Marlene forgave her sister and her homeland.
The sister was just a "follower", but later in her life, she once said something like Hitler wasn't so bad... anyhow, follower or not, it's worse enough. I can understand Marlene so well. I don't have any siblings, but I am very much anti-Nazi.

Now you have Marlene who is entertaining the American troops. She's helping people who fled from Germany or Austria to come into the US, and if they finally made it there, she helped them there too. She's working just against the Nazi's. And then there's her older sister, the naive one, who's always shown as a scared woman, who adores her "pussy-cat" (her nick-name for her younger sister Marlene), but lived in Bergen-Belsen not far from the famous concentration camp (it's the one where Anne Frank and millions of others died). SS people went in and out of her cinema. Her husband was an active Nazi, her son was also at first in the Hitler-Jugend and later a soldier. And then a long time after the war, knowing that the Nazi's killed 6 million Jews, and several other people, she says Hitler was not so bad? Um, thank you. I would have erased her out of my mind too. But Marlene was always generous and made sure she has enough money to live. She stayed in contact with her, also with her nephew. But how affectionate their relationship really was... is hard to tell.
[color=#400080][i]Perhaps I am mad. How should I know? I think I am normal.[/i]
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I made myself a signature, but found out I can not use it.... world is cruel. :(
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Marlene Dietrich

Post by charliechaplinfan »

We've been to Salzburg some years ago when it was just two of us, I didn't get to go on the Sound of Music tour bus and I don't think I will this time either. Nevermind, this time we have with us our children who are 8 and 5. We are staying at Ruhpolding and then moving further west. My children want to tick off as many countries as they can so we might nip into Switzerland too. I agree, I should PM you if we think of anything we need to know.

My brother who has been with his lovely German girlfriend for two years brought her to meet us and my daughter said to her straight away 'Your country was on the losing side during the war' thankfully Fran is good with children because my daughter followed it up with 'So why did you all believe Hitler? How could you not tell he was bad?' first thing we tried to do was apologise for her questions but Fran answered them very well and was thankfully charmed by her inquistiveness and childhood logic. She didn't shirk from the question but answered it directly. It was quite an icebreaker.

I think it's to Marlene's credit that she did look after her sister, although she must have felt some shame, was her later statement niavety or incendiary? I suppose we'll never know. How about her mother, did she just try to survive during the war years, doing what was necessary in order to survive. I know she was close to her mother.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
Libertine
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Re: Marlene Dietrich

Post by Libertine »

charliechaplinfan wrote:We've been to Salzburg some years ago when it was just two of us, I didn't get to go on the Sound of Music tour bus and I don't think I will this time either. Nevermind, this time we have with us our children who are 8 and 5. We are staying at Ruhpolding and then moving further west. My children want to tick off as many countries as they can so we might nip into Switzerland too. I agree, I should PM you if we think of anything we need to know.


Hehe, ok. If you are in Austria, maybe go to St. Wolfgangsee, it's a beautiful lake. Not that far away from Salzburg.
charliechaplinfan wrote:My brother who has been with his lovely German girlfriend for two years brought her to meet us and my daughter said to her straight away 'Your country was on the losing side during the war' thankfully Fran is good with children because my daughter followed it up with 'So why did you all believe Hitler? How could you not tell he was bad?' first thing we tried to do was apologise for her questions but Fran answered them very well and was thankfully charmed by her inquistiveness and childhood logic. She didn't shirk from the question but answered it directly. It was quite an icebreaker.
For sure a risky situation, but if you are sensitive enough you can reply to such question. But I bet at first it was just :shock: for all of you.
charliechaplinfan wrote:I think it's to Marlene's credit that she did look after her sister, although she must have felt some shame, was her later statement niavety or incendiary? I suppose we'll never know. How about her mother, did she just try to survive during the war years, doing what was necessary in order to survive. I know she was close to her mother.
Her mother.. I don't know. She didn't want to leave Berlin, though Marlene often enough tried to get her to come to the US. It's difficult to understand. Of course if you stayed somewhere all your life you do not want to leave, and the older you are, the harder it gets, but heck, living in Berlin... having a war... all these Nazi's.. having the chance to leave, and not going.. I wonder why. I do not know what her mother did believe. Interestingly there are hardly any letters between Marlene and her mother featured in the Riva book.
[color=#400080][i]Perhaps I am mad. How should I know? I think I am normal.[/i]
~Tallulah Bankhead[/color]

I made myself a signature, but found out I can not use it.... world is cruel. :(
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Marlene Dietrich

Post by charliechaplinfan »

That is somewhere I'd love to go to, we drove past it last time we came. The last time we were in Austria, some 15 years ago we were on a package holiday and visiting places on an organised coach trip, we travelled to Vienna it took a long time with many stops at roadside services for toilet stops, when we got there it was nearly time to come back. We did see the palace which was beautiful and the cathedral but not the Prater wheel. Oh to have our car this time, Vienna is too far but to see Salzburg again, perhaps one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. Vienna wasn't bad either just wished we'd had more time to appreciate it.

Oh, we've had many embarrassing moments with them, they both have a way with words. One thing Fran told us that amused us no end was that Germany had a vote on the most famous German ever and Mozart made it into the top twenty. It seems ignorance is alive everywhere.

With each generation we are more open to travel and the way of the world, perhaps that's what happened with Marlene's mother, America was another world and she was fond of Berlin, then like you say as we get older it gets harder to make the change.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
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JackFavell
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Re: Marlene Dietrich

Post by JackFavell »

Shanghai Express was WONDERFUL. One of the best looking movies I've ever seen, but without the kitsch of The Scarlet Empress. I find that I love Von Sternberg, even if he was a task-master.

Marlene was awe-inspiringly beautiful, she was the whole movie really - you simply can't take your eyes off of her. How Clive Brook could remain such a stick in the mud with her hands all over him, I'll never know. It would have been nice if an actor with a bit more expressiveness played "Doc", though I do see the point in using him - she looked even MORE fantastically sexy because Clive was so stodgy. I wanted her to take him in the worst way and degrade him. :)

It was great to see Anna May Wong with a meaty role, she was flawless, her scene during and after Oland has got a hold of her was spectacular. I also thought Warner Oland quite good, bringing a little realistic bureaucratic sympathy to the villain role. I loved the way the film was written - showing the uppity westerners to be no better than their "captors"... It made me laugh every time one of them complained about the swinish behavior of the Chinese, when they were behaving even worse.

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Was Louise Closser Hale's little dog a Lhasa Apso? I thought it quite appropriate that she was cosseting a little Chinese or Tibetan dog, while berating the Chinese people she encountered.

Here are some of the shots from the movie that really caught my attention. I loved the use of shutters and shades in the film.

Our first real glimpse of Shanghai Lily. Then she pulls the shade down. Von Sternberg keeps her mysterious.
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This jaw dropping shot was my favorite in the movie.
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I also loved the extremely slow fades:
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Marlene seems to have been incredibly inspiring to Von Sternberg. There is not a shot of her in the film that isn't a piece of art in itself. She's like porcelain:
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Using Anna May Wong and Marlene to offset one another was brilliant. Their contempt for the respectable passengers echoes one another, though Wong's seems more racially based, and Marlene's is more humorous. Plus, Von Sternberg again uses them as works of art, setting each other off perfectly:
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kingrat
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Re: Marlene Dietrich

Post by kingrat »

Thanks for those ravishing photographs.
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Rita Hayworth
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Re: Marlene Dietrich

Post by Rita Hayworth »

kingrat wrote:Thanks for those ravishing photographs.
Same here. I wished I could had seen this movie. I adore Dietrich.
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JackFavell
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Re: Marlene Dietrich

Post by JackFavell »

I love Marlene, I enjoy her films more than many other actresses, and I like her personality as well. She lived her life as large as possible and why not? If I were as beautiful as she was, I would have lived the same way, I think. She marched to the beat of her own drummer, unapologetically living the life of an artist.

She was so very heroic during the war, I had no idea how much so until I watched her family's documentary on her yesterday on TCM. She was incredible, singing and entertaining the troops, heading up to the front lines several times, sleeping on the ground with lice and vermin crawling around, enduring hardships, bad water and food, and severe bombings in order to show solidarity with the soldiers. She used her influence to spread allied propaganda throughout Germany and other countries.

She showed no fear for her personal safety at all, and to me the braver thing was to stand against her own country no matter what, knowing full well that some would never forgive her, that it might ruin her popularity. To me, that would be the most difficult thing to do, but she never hesitated. She became an anti-war proponent later on. She had an unerring sense of what was right when it came to racial issues - she seems not to have had a prejudiced bone in her body, and this is what I admire most in Marlene. I think she felt that artists should be the most free and most tolerant people, they should show the way for others to go. She is still an example to me of what a great woman can do, even if flawed as all humans are.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Marlene Dietrich

Post by charliechaplinfan »

Well said, I think she was an artist, a very free spirit and her own sense of morality which she backed up with such bravery.

I've got Von Sternberg's book here, hired from the library, I'm planning to read and watch at the same time.
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JackFavell
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Re: Marlene Dietrich

Post by JackFavell »

Ooh, maybe I can read a little too, after Tuesday when Alice goes back to school. I am halfway through Team of Rivals, a history of Lincoln and his cabinet. Maybe I can get to some Dietrich books and the Von Sternberg one too eventually. Let me know how it is.
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JackFavell
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Re: Marlene Dietrich

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Let's not wear the rose-colored glasses when we think of the "Golden Age" of Hollywood and the studio system. The studios were factories. And Louis B., Warners, Laemmle, Goldwyn etc., would have done their darnedest to break von Sternberg. His creativity wouldn't have stood a chance in the face of "Andy Hardy Gets Horny-Pt. III."
Well, in some ways you are right, of course, but I don't think a movie like this could get made without a studio system backing it, either.
To me, "Shanghai Express" is like the immovable object facing the irresistable force...a beautiful nonsensical paradox. (I'm saying the paradox is nonsensical...not the emotions of "Shanghai Express"
Dietrich and Brook are like two opposing armies aren't they? He is perfect in his uprightness, and completely offsets Marlene. I was wracking my brains for who might have played him better, and I could NOT think of a single actor, except maybe for Ronald Colman, and I think he might not have taken the role. The more she teases, the more upright he becomes.... if he were to waver, it would not be so much fun. It's about Doc's fall from the mountaintop, and the further he has to fall, the better we like it.

Doc is hilarious in his misconceptions, so very male, and so very deluded, while foundering around trying to hold her off. He might as well try to hold off the steam from the train whistle. Marlene is insidious, she will get inside you and never let you rest. It would have been easier for him to give in right away, but then he wouldn't have been worth the effort.

Might I throw in one more point about "Shanghai..."? Warner Oland makes a pass at Anna May Wong first in the beginning and is rebuffed, thrown out of her cabin. But remember when he makes a play for Dietrich, and Clive Brook saves her honor? Well, when Oland goes for Anna May this time...and succeeds, I'm afraid to say, it was like he made this transference from what he couldn't get from Dietrich...and WOULD get from Anna; any port in the storm would have sufficed for him at that moment. I felt really bad for Anna though I thought she looked pretty sexy all angered and disheveled...and with that knife in her hand. Just to be clear: No, I do not condone violence against women...let me put that out there. Do you know what I mean...I only say that 'cuz everything was such a heightened state of eroticism throughout that whole movie, Dietrich...the train...those sloooooooow dissolves.
I agree about the Oland/Wong sequence - it made me just a tad squeamish to see Anna May as second to anyone, even Dietrich. She was every bit as strong, and I like that the themes were all heavy duty, but were touched on in a jaggedly humorous and fairly light way, never dwelt upon. Oland was I thought very good as the slightly corrupt bureaucrat seeking power, who would eventually have his way no matter what. Were his motivations because of race, or because of being second fiddle in his job? I found the most fascinating thing about the Wong/Oland scenes was that they shared the same cultured but bitter outlook toward the westerners.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: Marlene Dietrich

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There is a good book out there about Anna May Wong, the title references the Laundry Man's Daughter, I borrowed it from the library, it was well written and what you felt about Anna's character is reminiscient of many of Anna's roles, A pity because she is a good actress but rarely given chance to shine.
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JackFavell
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Re: Marlene Dietrich

Post by JackFavell »

Thanks for mentioning the book to me, I will look it up and see if I can find it here.
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