10 March 2015

The "Russian Soul" in Marlene Dietrich’s Flicks

This post is part of the Russia in Classic Film Blogathon,
sponsored by Movies Silently & Flicker Alley
Please explore posts by other participants here

In her memoirs, Marlene Dietrich proclaimed "I have a ‘Russian soul' (which means that I easily give what is close to my heart)," a sentiment that at least dates backs to her 1964 appearance in Moscow. Given that her husband Rudolf Sieber's longtime mistress Tamara Matul was a White émigré, Russia may have very well been close to Marlene's heart and soul for decades before that. Russia has also breathed life into Dietrich's films, which include The Ship of Lost Men (1929), Dishonored (1931), The Scarlet Empress (1934), The Garden of Allah (1936), Knight Without Armour (1937), Angel (1937), Destry Rides Again (1939), Seven Sinners (1940), and The Flame of New Orleans (1941). This overview of the Russian characters, depictions of Russia and Russians, Russian caricatures, and even Russified characters in these films draws attention to the rarely acknowledged Russian essence of Dietrich's oeuvre.