Posts Tagged ‘Emil Jannings’

Based on a Heinrich Mann novel by name Professor Unrath (film changed the title to Der Blaue Engel)  The Blue Angel’s fame now rests as the springboard for Marlene Dietrich. Originally it was intended as a showcase for the talented Emil Jannings as his talkie debut. He had returned to Germany from Hollywood in 1929, after winning the first Best Actor Oscar for “The Way of All Flesh” and “The Last Command,” and he brought over Josef von Sternberg, his “Last Command” director. This veteran actor of the silent era (The Last Laugh, Faust ) in his portrayal of Professor Immanuel Rath has left a memorable performance. This movie deserves it place among 100 Best films for all the right reasons.

It is 1925. In a momentous period of time in the social history of Germany everything that we associate with the failings of the Weimar republic, von Sternberg has with his masterly visual story-telling, set before us a society turned upside down. It is nghtlife that is more alluring than the plain as day honesty of the kleineburger who must feed his family. Economy is in shambles. In this state of things Lola Lola, a cabaret singer with her dubious morals is in her element as Prof. Rath, the pedantic scholar with his puritanical upbringing is at a disadvantage. A pillar of the society in a small German port town his routine one may precisely tell by the town-clock. He teaches English in the local gymnasium (boarding school) and It is on such a disciplined man the parents have laid their charge knowing he shall see to their future. But the defeat of a war, and the conspiracy of forces economic, political and all that come in the wake of a war, is beyond any one’s control. Licenciousness of despair is more powerful than the self-righteousness of any man however high his position may be, a sad truth we see time and time again. The Blue Angel as a film works on the premise.
Emil Jannings plays the tyrannical Professor Immanuel Rath — or “Unrath” (“Garbage”), as his students call him. He lives alone, with a caged bird by his side and a maid who grudgingly works for him. Boys shall always be boys and there cannot be anything common with their natural high spirits, and the authoritarian figure. His classes are always boring and they have their own ways to amuse themselves. When confiscating a postcard passed around by his students of a cabaret singer named “Lola Lola,” he discovers that the boys have been frequenting the nightclub called “The Blue Angel” to see this dancer perform.

In those times when despair rode the highway pushing the solid burghers to the wall, Professor Rath has a righteous mission: he must save his wards from the corruption with ‘million dollar’ legs and just the same casts seductive spell. He visits her in her lair. And It must have been the longest walk ever taken by a self-respecting professor to lose his way back.  The professor falls under the novelty of a woman as strange as Lola Lola. Her legs are unlike anything he had ever seen or imagined. With her low throaty voice, languorous eyes and supple body she teases him into submission: and in her smile she holds promise of every kind of lascivious knowledge. He was no match for her. Her easy morals would soon show his own, in a poor light. It doesn’t take long for the pedagogue to lose everything that had hitherto made his world secure, -his respectability, his job. The film’s poignant,- and very subtly played, bitter emotional climax comes in the famous scene where Rath puts on a clown makeup before a stage mirror to take his minor, humiliating part in Lola’s show. Any lesser actor would have overplayed it but Jannings gives it naturalness, and all the pathos is left for the viewer to feel and the film is deservedly a tribute to him. No one can save Professor Rath now. He shall never find his way back again as Germany would never return to her old ways in a manner of speaking.
When Lola informs Rath that she is leaving him for another man in the troupe, he flees from the night club and seeks refuge in his old classroom at the academy. Rejected, humiliated, and destitute, he ends his life in the very spot where his path to ruin began, at his old desk.
The film was banned in Nazi Germany in 1933, as were all the works of Heinrich Mann and Carl Zuckmayer. Yet it is well-known that Hitler viewed the film every night in his private cinema, and was mortified when Dietrich crossed the Rhine in American Army uniform a few days before his suicide.

Lola Lola’s nightclub act has been parodied on film by Danny Kaye (in drag) as Fraulein Lilli in On the Double, Madeline Kahn as Lili von Schtupp in Blazing Saddles and Helmut Berger in Luchino Visconti’s The Damned.

A stage adaptation by Romanian playwright Razvan Mazilu premiered in 2001 at the Odeon Theatre in Bucharest, starring Florin Zamfirescu as the professor and Maia Morgenstern as Lola Lola.
Memorable Quotes:

Kiepert: You must drink. I’m not paying for your art.
Lola Lola: They call me Lola.
[to stuffy Professor Immanuel Rath, who is dressed in a clown suit]
Lola Lola: Your boys should see you now.
Lola Lola: Falling in love again/ Never wanted to/ What am I to do?/ I can’t help it.

*  Marlene Dietrich’s screen test for this film survives. In it, she upbraids an unidentified piano player for his bad playing and sings two songs, the first of which is “You’re the Cream In My Coffee.”

* This was Emil Jannings’ final English-language film (it was released in both German and English versions – see Alternate Versions).

* Marlene Dietrich (Lola Lola) was, contrary to common belief, not the “star” of the film. She was not even a known actress. She was one of several students at an acting academy who were auditioned by director Josef von Sternberg for the role. Each of the girls was told to bring with them “a naughty song” which they would perform. Dietrich was so nervous and so sure that she would not get the role that she showed up without a song.

* Many actresses from the stage and screen were considered for the role of Lola Lola. Early contenders were Gloria Swanson, Phyllis Haver, Louise Brooks, Brigitte Helm, Lya De Putti, Leni Riefenstahl, Lotte Lenya, and many young German starlets.(imdb)

Similar Movies
Cabaret  (1972, Bob Fosse)
Pandora’s Box  (1929, G.W. Pabst)
Variété  (1925, Ewald André Dupont)
Belle of the Nineties  (1934, Leo McCarey)
Lola  (1981, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Diary of a Lost Girl  (1929, G.W. Pabst)
Grihalakshmi  (1938, H.M. Reddy)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Morocco  (1930, Josef von Sternberg)
The Last Command  (1928, Josef von Sternberg)
Shanghai Express  (1932, Josef von Sternberg)
The Scarlet Empress  (1934, Josef von Sternberg)
Blonde Venus  (1932, Josef von Sternberg)
Dishonored  (1931, Josef von Sternberg)
The Devil Is a Woman  (1935, Josef von Sternberg)
Seven Sinners  (1940, Tay Garnett)
Other Related Movies
is related to:      Blonde Venus  (1932, Josef von Sternberg)
Dishonored  (1931, Josef von Sternberg)
Morocco  (1930, Josef von Sternberg)
The Scarlet Empress  (1934, Josef von Sternberg)
Shanghai Express  (1932, Josef von Sternberg)
The Devil Is a Woman  (1935, Josef von Sternberg)
A Fool There Was  (1915, Frank Powell)
Frederick Hollander’s songs include “Falling in Love Again,” which became Dietrich’s signature tune.
Directed by     Josef von Sternberg
Produced by     Erich Pommer
Written by     Heinrich Mann
(also novel)
Carl Zuckmayer
Karl Vollmöller
Robert Liebmann
Josef von Sternberg
Starring     Emil Jannings
Marlene Dietrich
Kurt Gerron
Music by     Friedrich Hollaender
Cinematography     Günther Rittau
Editing by     Walter Klee
Sam Winston
Distributed by     UFA
Paramount Pictures
Release date(s)     1 April 1930 (Germany)
Running time     99 minutes
Country     Germany
Language     German/English
(ack:imdb,all movie,wikipedia)

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