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(German: Die Büchse der Pandora)

The title is a reference to Pandora of Greek mythology, who upon opening a box given to her by the gods released all evils into the world, leaving only hope behind. The lead role is played by Lousie Brooks as Lulu. She is a young and impulsive vaudeville performer whose raw sexuality and uninhibited nature bring about the downfall of almost everyone she meets. Indeed her asset is her body which, to use a metaphor, was like the box. She only needed to open it, and as we see in this silent film, what havoc it could wreak on men as well as women of certain attitude. Incidentally in Countess Anna we have the cinema’s first lesbian character.
Pandora’s Box is a German silent melodrama based loosely on Frank Wedekind’s plays Erdgeist (Earth Spirit, 1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (1904). Wedekind’s plays in his time were controversial to say the least. Satire was a weapon more like a red rag to be shaken at the middle-class morality and the solid citizenry in Germany were bedeviled by the impossible and more perverse than natural conduct in Lulu. Widekind was not exceptional in this. From the turn of  the century there were two opposing forces at work in Imperial Germany and both were curiously born out of self same causes. Perversity, vampirism and similar lurid subjects that were taboo till then began to appear as a reaction to a very moribund German national life. Lulu was a creature, an intellectual shock therapy on one hand from Widekind is an example. The other form of shock was prescribed by Deeds and came from wandervögels (birds of passage). The latter were  from well-to-do middle class families and this movement was hellbent to attack school, home and church. The latter group was to transform into Freikorps at the end of WWI.The latter played a part in helping Hitler to power while it marked the exodus of intellectuals to safer havens.

This film is directed by Austrian filmaker Georg Wilhelm Pabst, the film stars Louise Brooks as Lulu, Fritz Kortner as Dr. Schön, Francis Lederer as Alwa Schön and Alice Roberts as Countess Geschwitz.
The plot revolves around many loves of Lulu, her rise and fall. She marries a respectable newspaper publisher, but soon drives him into insanity, climaxing in an incident in which she accidentally shoots him to death. Found guilty of manslaughter, she escapes from justice with the help of her former pimp (whom she considers her father) and the son of her dead husband, who is also in love with her. After spending several months hiding in an illegal gambling den in France, where Lulu is nearly sold into slavery, Lulu and her friends end up living in squalor in a London garret. On Christmas Eve, driven into prostitution by poverty, Lulu meets her doom at the hands of Jack the Ripper.
Pandora’s Box was already adapted to the screen by Arzén von Cserépy in 1921 in Germany under the same title with Asta Nielsen in the roll as Lulu. There were musical, plays and other cinema features of the film at the time and the story of Pandora’s Box was commonplace in culture. This allowed Pabst to make liberties with the story of the film.(wikipedia)
Directed by     G. W. Pabst
Produced by     Seymour Nebenzal
Written by     G. W. Pabst
Ladislaus Vajda
Cinematography     Günther Krampf
Distributed by     Süd-Film
Release date(s)     Germany:
30 January, 1929
Running time     100-152 mins. (US)
133 mins. (dir. cut)
Country     Germany
Language     silent film
German intertitle
* Fritz Körtner as Dr. Ludwig Schön
* Francis Lederer as Alwa Schön: Dr. Ludwig Schön son.
* Carl Goetz as Schigolch: there is no real definiton of his relation to Lulu but it is suggested in the film that he is or has acted as a sort of pimp for Lulu.
* Krafft-Raschig as Rodrigo Quast
* Alice Roberts as Countess Anna Geschwitz: Geschwitz is defined by her masculine look with her tuxedo suit that she wears.
* Daisy D’Ora as Dr. Schön’s Fiance
* Gustav Diessl as Jack the Ripper
* Michael von Newlinsky as Marquis Casti-Piani
* Sigfried Arno as The Stage Manager
Similar Movies
Diary of a Lost Girl  (1929, G.W. Pabst)
The Blue Angel  (1930, Josef von Sternberg)
Queen Kelly  (1929, Erich Von Stroheim)
The Wild Heart  (1950, Rouben Mamoulian, Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger)
A Breath of Scandal  (1960, Michael Curtiz)
Looking for Mr. Goodbar  (1977, Richard Brooks)
Klondike Annie  (1936, Raoul Walsh)
Afgrunden  (1910, Peter Urban Gad)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Diary of a Lost Girl  (1929, G.W. Pabst)
Kameradschaft  (1931, G.W. Pabst)
Westfront 1918  (1930, G.W. Pabst)
The Threepenny Opera  (1931, G.W. Pabst)
Don Quixote  (1933, G.W. Pabst)
Der Prozess  (1948, G.W. Pabst)
The Strange Death of Adolf Hitler  (1943, James Hogan)
Die Stadt ist voller Geheimnisse  (1955, Fritz Kortner)

* Louise Brooks as Lulu: On seeing Louise Brooks as a Circus Performer in the 1928 Howard Hawks’ film A Girl in Every Port. Director G.W. Pabst tried to get Brooks on loan from Paramount Pictures. Pabst’s offer wasn’t even given to Brooks by the studio until she left Paramount over a Salary dispute. On not receiving Brooks for the role, Pabst’s second choice was Marlene Dietrich.
* Georg Wilhelm Pabst nearly signed Marlene Dietrich to star, although he greatly preferred Louise Brooks. According to Pabst, Dietrich was in his office waiting to sign the contract when a cable came from Paramount saying that Brooks was willing to play the role.
* Georg Wilhelm Pabst initially incurred a lot of wrath when he cast American Louise Brooks in the role of Lulu, a part which was considered to be quintessentially German. Ultimately Brooks’ performance silenced her critics.
* For the scene in which Lulu picks up and seduces Jack, Georg Wilhelm Pabst selected one of Louise Brooks’s own suits – her favorite – for Lulu’s costume and soiled, scuffed and rent it. Brooks claimed that, without spoken direction, Pabst thus established the desired effect of making her feel worn, cheap, and desperate, as the character of Lulu was intended to be portrayed.

* In her biography, Louise Brooks says she was physically attracted to Gustav Diessl, who played Jack the Ripper, and that made it easy for her to play her scenes with him.

* According to Louise Brooks’ memoir, “Lulu in Hollywood”, Alice Roberts was not aware her character was a lesbian until filming began, and she was initially opposed to playing the role as being attracted to Lulu. Georg Wilhelm Pabst, Brooks writes, convinced Roberts to pretend she was making her love gestures to Pabst, who was standing just off-camera.

* Louise Brooks’ highly influential “bob” hairdo is referred to as a Lulu to this day.

•    Fritz Kortner reportedly did not like or respect Louise Brooks, whom he didn’t consider a trained actress.
Memorable quotes:
Lulu: You’ll have to kill me to get rid of me.
Dr. Ludwig Schön: [to Alwa] Just one thing, my boy, beware of that woman.
Schigolch: You should only play when you’re sure to win.
Lulu: [referring to the Egyptian] He’s acting like he wants to buy me.
Marquis Casti-Piani: I need money badly and you have none to give me… The Egyptian will give me 50 more pounds than the German police… You’re in luck.
Alwa Schön: It’s strange how you can get booze on credit but not bread.
Lulu: MONEY! All they want is money!

In France, the film was edited making Alwa was Schon’s secretary and the countess became Lulu’s childhood friend. Lulu is found innocent in the film at her trial and there is no Jack the Ripper character as the film ended with Lulu joining the Salvation Army.

In Retro

The film was re-discovered in the 1950s by critics to great critical acclaim. Modern critics now praise the film as one of the classics of Weimar Germany’s cinema along with The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari, Metropolis, and The Blue Angel.

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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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