30 December 2007

Back Home Again - in Monte Carlo

Marlene's two songs from "The Montecarlo Story" (1956) - not available on DVD, alas.
Les Jeux Sont Faits:

03 November 2007

Me and Bobby Mcgee

It's not quite "Me and Bobby Mcgee," (and if it was, who's who?!). However,here are two pictures that I at least had never seen before.

My thanks to Yusuke (a big Edith Piaf fan) for making these pictures known to me.

12 October 2007


Some reviews of Dietrich's Broadway shows and that "Queen of Ajax" interview with Rex Reed have been posted for your enjoyment. (pdf)

11 October 2007

Where were you on Wed., Nov. 26, 1940?

I would have been at Charleroi's Menlo Theater to see "Destry Rides Again with James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich. Admission was 17 cents for matinee showings and 25 cents for evening presentations."

Dietrich rests again in Paris

From a article, I caught wind of an Edward Steichen exhibition running at Paris' Jeu de Paume gallery until December 30th, 2007. Click on the exhibit photos, and you will spot a disembodied Anna May Wong, Dietrich's co-star in Shanghai Express, napping beside a chrysanthemum victim to the same fate. I won't feign any knowledge of Steichen and his work, other than the referenced Dietrich photo (posted above) and some others, including one here. In fact, this site led me to discover that Dietrich's Morocco co-stars, Gary Cooper and Adolphe Menjou, also posed for Steichen.

I've always appreciated Dietrich's lavish gestures and lustful lounging in these photos, but why plop a vase of carnations into this opulent scene? Those weeds might as well be in an old Coke bottle.

22 September 2007

The toast of Spain

I recently came across an article about Hollywood's acceptance of Hispanic actors, and it hinted that Hollywood was more favorable to other exotic imports, such as Dietrich. While I wouldn't argue that point, I did find fault in the article's reference to Dietrich. Was Dietrich a MEXICAN fortuneteller in Touch of Evil? I don't quite recall. I assumed her character was Roma (Gypsy).

Also, considering Dietrich's accent without considering Josef von Sternberg's entire body of work ignores Sternberg's tendency to eschew accuracy for aestheticism or humor. Based on the Pierre Louys novel, Le femme et le pantin, The Devil Is a Woman is a portrayal of a frivolous man-eater, with Spain as a pretty backdrop. It isn't much about Spain at all. In fact, do any of the characters have a Spanish accent in The Devil is a Woman? No! Dropping Dietrich's name only serves to attract more readers to this article. Sternberg, in fact, was profiting off audiences' Iberian illusions with The Devil Is a Woman. Actually, he intended to call the film La Caprice Espagnole. Let's examine this title for a moment. First, he's dropping Spain's name. After all, the exotic image of a foreign country attracts viewers. Second, the title is in FRENCH, not Spanish. Why? There's really no asking with Sternberg. Part of what amuses me when I watch Sternberg's films is this detachment from the characters and their environment. Listen to and laugh at Louise Dresser's corn-husker drawl as she plays a Russian empress in The Scarlet Empress. It's ridiculous! That's why it's funny.

10 August 2007

I could write NOVELS if I had this

Maria Riva must be hard up for some sheep embryo injections or something because she's hawked her mother's siggy to Montblanc. In honor of La Dietrich, the company has produced a limited edition foundation fountain pen, with only 1,901 in stock. Check it out here. Made of mother-of-pearl, platinum, sapphires, and gold, it's fit for a lady! Forgive the Montblanc site's typos and midi track; their craftsmen were too busy simulating Dietrich's silhouette with their epistolary masterpiece.

27 June 2007

Justyna Steczkowska and "Johnny."

Justyna Steczkowska, a Polish singer, delivers what I think really is a good version of "Johnny." I have never seen a better version, except of course Marlene's.


19 June 2007

Legendary, Lovely Marlene

On June 21, 1954, Marlene was introduced thus by Noel Coward before a star-studded audience at London's Café de Paris. It was her first appearance in London, and the show ran at that venue until 18 July that year. While she was in London, she also appeared at the "Night of 100 Stars" where she sang "Land Sea and Air" in duet with Noel.

Luckily for us, that "legendary, lovely" evening was recorded and issued as an album, so that we can easily relive it 53 years on. (Available at : )

28 May 2007

Norma Bosquet's Marlene Memoir

Norma Bosquet, who was Marlene's secretary from 1977 - 1992 (during the time Marlene was living in seclusion at 12a Ave Montaigne in Paris, left) has published a memoir about her relationship with Marlene.

You can find more information about the book, "Marlene Dietrich, les derniers secrets" at : .

29 March 2007

A couple more newslinks!

Leo Lerman's salacious journals to be published April 14th

Maria Riva not so pleased with that tootpick Paltrow playing her mother?

Papa and the Kraut

My apologies for my severe lack of updates! I have been quite busy preparing for a "suicide" journey to Eastern Europe. Anyway, I just spotted a fascinating bit of Dietrich news. With the support of Maria Riva, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum will unseal 30 letters written by Hemingway to Dietrich. Perhaps the public's prying eyes will get a peek as well? You may have to request access to JFK Library's Ernest Hemingway collection to find out.

New York Times source

20 February 2007

Which dress was this?

Of course, there was also glamour of the highest sort: Marlene Dietrich in black Christian Dior, Audrey Hepburn in white Givenchy. And during the early years of the awards, many actresses wore beautiful gowns designed by studio costume designers, such as Paramount's Trevor Banton and Edith Head.

I love the idea of identifying photos of dresses based on written descriptions. Thus, I'll make it a game to match the visual and the written. Let's see if anyone can find this gown by the end of the week! By the way, the writer of this article got Banton's first name wrong. It's Travis, not Trevor.

17 February 2007

Another Strange Photo

I can't quite put my finger on why, but something about seeing Dietrich in candid or strange photos makes me giggle! I suppose it's just fun to see the most glamorous woman in the world look a little more like a human being. And part of it may also be a fascination with the rare and unseen.... We've all seen the shots from Blonde Venus, but how many of you have seen this?

15 February 2007

YouTube Clip of the Week!

We all have seen this clip, but it's been particularly amusing to me today. Dietrich plays the cabaret tramp perfectly when she boorishly stomps on the piano keys. Truly, this isn't a mere screen test. It's an entrance exam to legendary status.

13 February 2007

Dietrich films online!

Someone has certainly been generous by putting Dietrich media online. Take a look at these:

The Scarlet Empress

Golden Earrings

07 February 2007

A Foreign Affair - Screening

UCLA's film archive is putting on the ritz! Billy Wilder's often ignored Foreign Affair
will be screened on Sunday the 18th of February at approximately 4P.M...

Where, you ask? Why at the new Billy Wilder Theatre of course! It's right inside the Hammer Museum, in case you are wondering.

(Please ignore the first movie, without Dietrich it's probably very blan... well, I shouldn't be too mean!)
Sunday February 18 2007, 2:00PM ( Buy Ticket )

(Germania anno zero)

(1947) Directed by Roberto Rossellini

The third installment in the postwar trilogy turns from Italy to its former occupier. Twelve-year-old Edmund (Edmund Moeschke) and his ailing father lead a desperate existence in the rubble of Berlin just after the war. A chance encounter with a former teacher sends Edmund on a path of self-destruction to rival even the nightmarish city around him. Shot on location, GERMANY YEAR ZERO uses Berlin's bombed-out ruins as a landscape of desperation and hopelessness.

Producer: Salvo D'Angelo, Roberto Rossellini. Screenwriter: Roberto Rossellini, Max Colpet. Cinematographer: Robert Julliard. Editor: Anne-Marie Findlesen. Cast: Edmund Meschke, Ernst Pittschau, Ingetraud Hintze, Franz Kruger. Presented in German dialogue with English subtitles. 16mm, 72 min.

Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive
(1948, United States) Directed by Billy Wilder

Congresswoman Phoebe Frost (Jean Arthur) embarks on a fact-finding mission to American occupied Berlin (where director Billy Wilder himself lived prior to World War II). There the straight-laced politico finds more than she bargained for in a tangled web of romance and mystery involving a handsome GI (John Lund) and an ex-Nazi cabaret performer (Marlene Dietrich). Wilder's satire of American naivete v. European cynicism was shot on location in Berlin around the same time as GERMANY YEAR ZERO and even includes a brief, humorous homage to Rossellini's film.

February 2007 Film Screenings!

Shanghai Express, 02.10-02.11, Stanford Theatre (Palo Alto)

06 February 2007

Stupid American women!

The Allure blog has posted a lovely little artifact revealing women's views of the Dietrich look in the '30s. The following letter comes from Movie Classic magazine, way back in June, 1933:

The $20.00 letter - Marlene's Pants
All this hullabaloo about Marlene Dietrich's pants gives me a pain in the neck. Nothing, say I, but a cheap bid for publicity, and believe me, she got her share. Her assertion that American women should not imitate her because they do not look good in trousers, is an insult to the symmetry of our American stars, and if they are foolish enough to follow her idiotic fashion, they will soon find they have lost plenty of their popularity. But there's no need to worry as this foolish fad won't last any longer than Eve's fig leaf. The lure of feminine finery is too strong for women, and what would the stars spend their money on, if they eliminated beautiful clothes? The more feminine women are, the more attraction they have for men. And we, the long suffering General Public, want our stars feminine. There is nothing in the world more charming than a beautiful girl in a shimmering dress, be it silk or organdie. Our poor men are having enough trouble these days, what with women having taken their jobs; their barber chairs; their cigarettes and choice swear words. The least they can do is leave the poor creatures their trousers. MRS. HANNAH FELDMAN, Atlanta, Ga.

05 February 2007

Paltrow still attached to Dietrich biopic?

According to the article below, yes. I can't say I'm terribly pleased. Gwyneth Paltrow always looks like she just drank sour milk with the faces she makes. She has a jaw worthy of a horse bit, too. Too bad Louis Malle died. Uma Thurman would have been so perfect. The taste of Helen Jones she gave us as Poison Ivy in that otherwise forgettable Batman film left me wanting more.

02 February 2007

Milton H Greene and Dietrich, A Fruitful Pair

We might all know him for his work with Monroe, but Milton Greene also took hundreds of photos with Dietrich.

His most famous shots of Marlene may be this 1952 shot used on the cover of Life Magazine:

And these 1972 shots, with the still-sexy Dietrich wearing nothing but her swan feather souffle (and her 'foundation' of course):

But the Milton Greene archive, found here, includes a LOT more pictures of Dietrich. If you don't mind looking through 16 pages of contact sheets (not all well scanned), it's worth a look, or two!

My favorite shot is the following:

31 January 2007

Jamie Lee Curtis in a Dietrich gown?

Shocking. Jamie never played the clotheshorse like Dietrich. Could she really pull off a Dietrich gown? Surely the two ladies share nothing in common. Actually, both have ties to nobility. And both have woefully meager bust sizes. And both have had their sex organs put in question. Back to the gown in question, Curtis apparently wore it at the 1984 Oscars, and it was recently modeled at a private runway show called "A Celebration of Oscar Fashion." This article describes it as an "ivory beaded confection" once belonging to Dietrich from 1942. Anyone have photos of it from the oh-so-exclusive private runway show or on Dietrich/Curtis themselves?


No, those are not cubic zirconia! The artist Vik Muniz's 2004 work deifies Dietrich with diamonds. You can view it at the Baltic Centre in Gateshead, U.K. Read more here.

30 January 2007

The Best Marlene Dietrich (Sorta) Tribute Video of the Week!

The Best Marlene Dietrich (Sorta) Tribute Video of the Week!

Lets hope this works! It's not all Dietrich but it's all in good fun!

Liz Smith hammers out some damage control

Amidst the titillating headlines about Dietrich the phone sex operator, there is one about Dietrich the war hero. None other than Liz Smith, Larry King's female counterpart in bland celebrity journalism, would send this defense to the presses. Disregarding the popular new Leo Lerman work, Liz instead reminds us of a congratulatory Dietrich book published last year, J. David Riva's A Woman at War: Marlene Dietrich Remembered. A boiling Maria Riva probably poured over Liz's article with her during tea time at the St. Regis. Too bad she left her red pen at home.

28 January 2007

How about this cream in your coffee?

I wouldn't expect Page Six of The New York Post to uphold the Sabbath. Nevertheless, its Dietrich item today is quite blasphemous. She truly was just a gigolo.

27 January 2007

How to dress like Dietrich!

Marlene Dietrich, wearing a Charles James satin gown, c.1934. I had never seen this picture before, and although the photo isn't too clear, it's a nice find. Not as glamorous as the stage Dietrich, so I don't wanna call her Marlene; this is more like Mass.


An amie jolie to Amy Jolly

Sometimes I overlook entire pages at websites, including MDCB. Today, I noticed for the first time its most intriguing material: transcripts of letters and telegrams from Benno Vigny's real-life Amy Jolly to Dietrich, and even telegram transcripts from Benno Vigny to Amy Jolly herself. All my attempts to attain Vigny's novella, Amy Jolly--the basis of Dietrich's first American film, Morocco--have proven to be a pipe dream, so this correspondence somewhat serves as a consolation prize.

In short, Jolly requests some monetary compensation from Dietrich, which Vigny never paid her. Based on follow-up reports from Dietrich's friend, this Amy Jolly does not come off as the type to hike through desert sands in heels for her man. Rather, Jolly proves to be quite the hustler--as well as a North African Heidi Fleiss. Jolly does, however, express a genuine desire to possess a candid Dietrich photo, like other movie-goers who were struck immediately by the Dietrich mystique and wanted to penetrate its Hollywood trappings.

As an aside, I never knew Morocco was called Coeurs brulés in Francophone countries.

Youtube video of the week II

The designer Jean Louis crafted veritable works of art to drape Marlene's slender frame. At $30,000 a piece (in the 1960's!), these bugle-beaded wonders often involved days upon days of fittings, with Marlene standing stock still while Jean Louis's assistants paced around her.

But don't take my word for it:

25 January 2007

YouTube Video Of The Week

Another tale to add to the Dietrich tome! This one comes from the famous British music producer, Jonathan King. To evoke Dietrich's smoky tone, King drolly speaks an octave lower than his own voice as he recalls a phone conversation between them. Their fortuitous chat consequently led to Dietrich performing one of King's biggest hits, "Everyone's Gone to the Moon," during her stage shows. Incidentally, King's Dietrich commentary follows a Jimi Hendrix anecdote, a reminder that Dietrich maintained her visibility and prestige during a era of contrasts. Even King lauds Dietrich as "probably the greatest star of the 20th century" in the video and here, perhaps because she lauded his song as the greatest ever written? In case you were wondering, that file of "Everyone's Gone to the Moon" no longer appears available! Let me know if any of you manage to procure it.

22 January 2007

January 2007 film screenings, continued!

The Blue Angel, Wesleyan (8:00pm)


Disappointed by this paltry update, I did a Dietrich search on Craigslist. If you have one grand lying around, this item may interest you:

A letter from Dietrich to fashion designer Jean Louis

Jean Louis' nimble fingers, of course, crafted the bugle-beaded gowns that caressed Dietrich's seemingly nude silhouette during her stage shows.

21 January 2007

This or that?

Last November, Kino re-released The Blue Angel as part of a collection they call Glamour Girls. Flophouse cabaret tramps such as Lola-Lola aren't quite my idea of glamor, but alliteration does sell! Take note of the editorial review as well as the customer review that this edition of The Blue Angel is the English version. If you enjoy phonetic readings from actors who do not understand their own script, I recommend this edition! All sarcasm aside, I would consider this collection for the other films it contains. Myrna Loy, Ava Gardner, Lucille Ball, and Margaret Sullavan are worthy companions to naughty Lola in my book.

Otherwise, try the older 2-disc Kino release of The Blue Angel, which features the German AND English version with optional subtitles and an array of extras, including the famous screen test that Maximillian Schell discussed with Dietrich in Marlene and that later appeared in David Riva's Her Own Song.

20 January 2007

Keep this in your glove compartment at all times

Here's a novelty--an image-rich page devoted to Marlene Dietrich in opera gloves. How appropriate considering Maria Riva's biographical reports that her Mutti hated her bare hands. Speaking of anecdotes, were they white kid gloves or black kid gloves that Dietrich would wear to play a lady like her tante Valli? I must confess that I am no handwear connoisseur. Perhaps I should review that charming little comedy, The Lady Is Willing, to refresh my memory. Sometimes I wonder whether Theodora van Runkle, the main costume designer of Myra Breckinridge, had Elizabeth Madden in mind when fitting Raquel Welch in the monochromatic ruffled marvel that Mae West demanded removed from the film! Of course, Dietrich's Irene-designed Seven Sinners sailor suit is quite obviously appropriated by Myra. I could therefore imagine van Runkle taking more cues from Irene's chic and formidable female fashions.

19 January 2007

AFI to revise its 100 greatest films list!

On the American Film Institute website, it seems plans to reconstruct its 1998 list of the greatest 100 films of all time are underway. You can be download a copy of the ballot here. Among the 400 film titles are The Scarlett Empress and Touch of Evil!

Since the 1960s, the film industry and media have been reevaluating von Sternberg's works with Dietrich, but with the gradual re-releases on DVD (such as the great Criterion Collection edition of The Scarlet Empress), frequent film screenings (including the American Cinematheque's 2005 series, which I was fortunate to attend), David Riva's Her Own Song documentary, Maria Riva's public appearance on Larry King Live, and--of course--Dietrich's own posthumous centennial, the 21st century has seen critics extol the former "Box Office Poison." AFI even listed Dietrich at a high #9 on their list of the 50 Greatest Screen Legends. Now it's time AFI recognize the most incandescent films of its Top 10 screen legend.

Believe me, these aren't merely the views of a Dietrich disciple. A blogger named Jeffrey Anderson also suggests the von Sternberg/Dietrich silver screen collaborations as serious contenders. I hope AFI voters share his views the way I do.

18 January 2007

'60s French interview sound clips!

Last week, a friend of mine directed me to a page featuring Marlene Dietrich interview extracts (in French), in which she expresses her views and advice regarding love, relationships, and the value of beauty. Those of my generation will undoubtedly react to how Dietrich deduces the differences between men and women. I will allow you to judge these clips yourself, which you will find here.

NOTE: I have plans to see Soderbergh's The Good German, which critics have relentlessly compared to A Foreign Affair. As one would expect, the critics connect few specific links between the two films. Critics are also comparing Cate Blanchett's character to Dietrich, although they are also name-dropping Greta Garbo and any other old actress with a European accent. When I see the film myself, I will certainly report my own perspective. At the moment, I have reservations. Cate Blanchett herself cautiously notes in interviews that "Marlene Dietrich channels Marlene Dietrich" (how astute!) and lists other actresses who have inspired her. Additionally, her dowdy brunette look doesn't quite channel Dietrich, unless you're watching Golden Earrings on stolen cable.

14 January 2007

Old Hollywood meets New Hollywood!

A press release from has me salivating over the potential circulation of many rare Dietrich images! In short, WireImage is now distributing movie stills from the Kobal Collection, which provided the photos in Thierry de Navacelle's quaint oversize book, Sublime Marlene. Among those images were stills from the unreleased, unfinished Dietrich film, I Loved a Soldier (a.k.a. Hotel Imperial). Yes, Dietrich was rehashing her Bavarian beer girl caricature, Heidi braids and all, but these were photos from a canned flick! Imagine what else Kobal has to offer. Frankly, I'm ready for Lola-Lola to stuff herself in her barrel.

The only unfortunate aspect of this deal is WireImage's stinginess. Unlike, which distributes free photos at IMDB, WireImage requires paid subscription to view photos larger than a thumbnail. Nonetheless, the rabid find detours around such deterrents. Fans of Nicole Richie, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, and Paris Hilton manage to access photo agencies' guarded goods all the time. Surely, the old boys who dumpster-dived for Mae West negligees behind Paramount can also find a way.

The Frau With the Pearl Earring

The latest legend involves a recently discovered pearl earring that Marlene Dietrich supposedly lost while riding The Big Dipper roller coaster at the British amusement park, Blackpool Pleasure Beach. You can see the original article here. Regarding the Dietrich photo at that site, no way did she look that old in 1934! I suspect foul Photoshop play. Either that or the midday sun wasn't a high enough key light for her.