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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Last Of The Dietrich-Sternbergs To DVD ...


Where The Look Is Everything: Dishonored (1931)

Another Von Sternberg design wallow that needs arresting background to take onus off weak narrative and takes-getting-used-to Victor McLaglen as Dietrich's leading man. She's spy X27 (is that right?) who wheedles ways forward and back from enemy territory and officer quarters therein. At one point, she's dressed way down and sans-glamour in chambermaid disguise, alerting us to how much of Dietrich's aura was artifice. Would she have submitted to this after getting camera, make-up, and costume control a few years later? There's bacchanal of a costume ball that is likeliest a first clip anyone would highlight from Dishonored; did Orson Welles give this knowing homage years later at Mr. Arkadin's masked party? JvS lends bizarre touch to it all --- the further we're removed from his Paramount group, the more insane they play. I've wondered before --- have the Dietrich/Sternbergs gone out of fashion? Warner Oland is in for a first quarter; I'd prefer him for leading man over McLaglen. Whatever you think of the Dietrich/Sternbergs, you don't forget them, and if Dishonored isn't a best of six they teamed on, it's miles ahead of whatever-other programmers Paramount was selling at the time.

1 Comments:

Blogger Reg Hartt said...

Anytime over the years I have turned people of the current generation on to great films from the silent and early sound era they always respond enthusiastically. Will Sloan, a film writer for the University of Toronto's VARSITY newspaper in a feature wrote, "I have rarely felt a film's greatness in film class. I have often felt it at Reg Hartt's Cineforum." The reasons for that are summed up in one word. That word is presentation. I fell in love with Sternberg's Dietrich films years ago in the 1960s. Generations of young people have fallen in love with those films at my screenings. Ditto Mae West, W. C. Fields, Chaplin, Keaton, Griffith et al. Here they see them projected on a big screen sitting down looking up which is how these films were meant to be seen. The writing in these films is absolutely first rate. I love it when high school age people respond positively and with enthusiasm. They say, "Show me more, please." They come without affectation or pretension. They say what every audience has always said,"Impress me." DISHONORED is included with THE SHANGHAI EXPRESS from TCM. They are both the last to get the dvd treatment.

1:50 PM  

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