Monday, 25 May 2015

I've Just Seen: The Blue Angel (1930)

The Blue Angel (Der blaue Engel) (1930)

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Writers: Carl Zuckmayer, Karl Vollmoller, Robert Liebmann, Josef von Sternberg (from Heinrich Mann's novel Professor Unrat)
Notable Actor: Marlene Dietrich

There are two versions of this film: I saw the German language one. Apparently the English language version has some subtle differences; I won't be rushing to see it. That is not to say that this film is terrible, it is not; I am glad I saw it. But I was not grabbed by the film, though the ending was very good. This is the film that propelled Marlene Dietrich into the international consciousness, so it is significant in that respect. It is curious to see her so young; in popular representations of her she is older and deeper voiced. In The Blue Angel she is youthful and her voice slightly screechy at times.

I quite enjoyed seeing/ hearing different lyrics to the famous 'Falling in Love (Can't Help It),' (in German), which talk about being ready for love from 'top to toe' and being 'programmed' for love. Apart from Dietrich, Emil Jannings gives a very good performance as a besotted fool, and his hummilation is painful to watch.

To modern audience there is not much new storywise, and it is very simple. As I said, I wasn't grabbed until the very end, which was not enough for me.


  1. I like this more than you do, but I have a history with it. When I was in high school, my German teacher made us watch this every year, so there are certain memories attached to this for me.

  2. I think I liked this one better than you did. If you think Jannings is good as a miserable character you need to see Der Letzte Mann. That is his best performance ever.

  3. Yes, it does sound like you both enjoyed it more than me; I didn't find it bad and can see why it is included on the 1001 list; it just wasn't one of those finds one sometimes gets from following these lists.

  4. My abiding memory of the English version of The Blue Angel—which I admittedly last saw in the early 90s—is that a surprising amount of it is in German. Not because the print I saw had been mangled by an incompetent editor who'd botched the assembly of it by mixing up English and German reels, but because the actors themselves, well, forgot to speak English. And, worse, they're actually corrected ON-SCREEN; one of Rath's students slips into German and Rath snaps "auf Englisch!" at him, and later Rath himself meets Lola and greets her with "Du bist die Lola-Lola!" and she says something like "sorry, you'll have to speak my language". I dimly recall it only getting worse as the film went on.

    1. That sounds unintentionally funny. Makes me glad I saw it in German!