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Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel) Reviews

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Super Reviewer

September 3, 2010
Why is it so hard for entertainers to fall in love? This movie is sad, but the story is good, especially the ending. Overall it's okay.
Cindy I

Super Reviewer

May 2, 2007
This is a story about the devastating effects of a man who lets his heart override his brain. A classic of German cinema, right up there with M and Metropolis, this one directed by Josef von Sternberg. If this film was nothing but the visuals -- sets, lighting, art direction -- it would have still knocked me out. But it is so much more than that.

Emil Jennings plays college professor Immanuel Rath, who find his students in possession of postcards of a sexy cabaret singer. He goes to the club, called the Blue Angel, to confront the woman, named Lola Lola, about her effects on his students. Unfortunately, he falls head over heels for her himself, and his obsession leads to the loss of his career and eventually, his dignity.

It starts comedic at first, with Rath collecting the student's postcards in class, and then later chasing them through the club. But as it goes on Rath loses more and more of his self-worth. When he finally can take no more, being utterly humiliated in front of his hometown, and snaps, it's terrifying to watch. Some of the more memorable scenes are the death of Rath's canary (really), Lola's songs, and the last shot of the film --which I will not give away here -- has stuck with me since I first saw it years and years ago.

One of Marlene Dietrich's first films, she is not the glamour ice goddess of her future -- no severe lighting, no cheekbones, no slinky dresses. She plays Lola as much more earthy and blatantly sexual.. Lola knows her appeal to men and is basically a cocktease. I stil haven't decided if Lola means from the beginning to treat Rath as badly as she does, if she doesn't know any better or just doesn't care.

One interesting thing about this film is seeing what was considered sexy and racy in pre-Hitler Germany. Lola's costumes are very revealing and yet really show nothing, except her undies. One postcard has a photo of Lola with a grass skirt attached to the card that can be blown up to show her stockings and garters. The young men in Rath's class get great entertainment by this activity. It seems so innocent now in this age of teen girls dressing like streetwalkers and thong bathing suits on every beach. Kinda sad really how jaded we've become as a society.
Mr Awesome
Mr Awesome

Super Reviewer

May 2, 2010
Marlene Dietrich plays a showgirl who ensnares the heart of a college professor (Emil Jannings) in this pre-war german production. The sets are visually expressive, and so is the film itself. The professor is an uptight bachelor, who's disliked by nearly all his students. He seems to be having a miserable life when he meets Marlene, and he eventually falls in love with and decides to give up his life to marry her. He loses his position at the school and follows the show on a tour of nightclubs, taking more and more menial jobs within the show. As the professor suffers, it's not clear what would have made him happy in life, but he's made the clown both literally and figuratively. Marlene the showgirl is so flighty, she jumps from man to man. She finds his earnestly sweet nature to be endearing at first, but soon just sees him as another weak man. Are these characterizations meant to show the dangers of chasing after a morally "loose" woman, or is it an indictment of petty bourgeois repressed sexuality? There's so much that visually and emotionally striking about this powerful film, by the end, the viewer is left stunned.
Sarah G

Super Reviewer

August 30, 2006
Pretty decent German film.
Byron B

Super Reviewer

September 13, 2007
My first experience watching a film on The Auteurs site. The quality was great. The subtitles were mixed up only a couple times.

I loved it!! The German style cinematography and art decoration. The style that would be lost in Germany and taken to Hollywood when Hitler came to power. This movie takes place from 1925 to 1929 before the Nazis took over. It is a closer to real life look at the same time and culture that Cabaret portrays.

Emil Jannings was the first actor honored with the best actor Academy Award. I have only seen one other performance of his. But it was impressive and so was this role. Dietrich is seductive and husky voiced as Lola, but younger and not as husky voiced as she was in Witness for the Prosecution. The staff at the burlesque club Der Blaue Engel is like a family. Jannings is a professor at a local University and the dynamics of his classroom show that nothing much has changed. Three of his students are regulars at The Blue Angel. Professor Immanuel Rath is the picture of repression and routine. He tries so hard to keep the young men in his class in line and goes himself to the club to kick them out. He is so out of his element at the club and interacting with Lola. These early scenes have a lot of humor. Through chance circumstances he must return to the club and he ends up acting the part of a knight coming to the rescue of the lady's honor, at least the honor he imagines Lola has. Ultimately it is a tragic story, as Rath never finds his backbone and loves/trusts Lola too innocently. He falls into the "family" business, at first selling pinup postcards of his new wife, then inheriting the degrading clown assistant position for the magician/manager.

The dialog as translated in the subtitles surprised me with its natural flow and sophistication. The dialog strongly reveals the attitude of the culture before restrictions, whether from Germany or Hollywood, limited how sexuality particularly could be shown or mentioned in the movies.
Anthony V

Super Reviewer

March 22, 2008
Influenced many films that followed.
Patrick D

Super Reviewer

November 29, 2007
Super strange flick. I like the build up to utter disaster of human emotion.
September 10, 2009
I had a difficult time giving a crap about Emil Jannings rather poor judgment. Until that last shot.
September 2, 2008
Heart wrenching tearjerker of man seduced and destroyed by dancing lover. Marlene Dietrich is stunning here in one of her earliest roles.
June 24, 2007
I was chanel surfing and this movie popped up and hit me broadside. Marlene is steamy, sultry, and would be 106 years old now.
February 16, 2014
An extraordinary character study that boasts some of the best performances I have ever seen from such an early film. The 1930s were often plagued by melodramatic performances and Marlene Dietrich does a sensational job as the seducing Lola. THe scene stealer for me though was the highly strung professor portrayed by Emil Jannings. The Blue Angel effectively shows the downfall of Professor Emanuel Rath who goes from one of the most respected and intelligent men in town to a deranged lunatic dressed as a clown. Jannings delivers such an amazing performance, particularly in the final scenes of the movie in which he has a nervous breakdown and is ridiculed on stage in front of his entire hometown. Though it was a tad dull at times, the final scenes were some of the most impressive in film history.
February 19, 2014
The Blue Angel has nice expressionist sequences in a manner of earlier silent German classics, competent acting, especially that of Marlene Dietrich and interesting story, but that story needed greater emotional investment to make a bigger impact and the singing scenes slow the movie significantly in a manner of detours and that is why this early sound film is good, but very flawed indeed.
Matty Stanfield
January 2, 2014
Both the German and the English version of Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel remain an important part of cinematic history. The German version is by far the more effective. This might be due, in part, because the cast was German. However, there is something more realistic and gritty to be found in the German version. Produced prior to the Hayes Office Codes, the film offers an interesting insight into how early cinema was approaching realism. Marlene Dietrich literally seethes eroticism and her fellow "ladies" on the stage are every bit as tawdry as what Fosse would capture over forty years later in CABARET. Emil Jannings is both comical and heart-breaking in his performance. While the film does hinge on a misogynistic turn, it avoid the pitfall of the normal "bad girl with a heart of gold" conceit. This film will most certainly hold a great deal of interest for hardcore movie buffs or Film Theory aficionados. The allure of sexual desire has seldom been captured so brutally.
January 12, 2013
A college professor gives up his quiet and tranquil life for the love of a beautiful cold hearted night club singer. This film represents the debut and immediate star making performance of Marlene Dietrich, who is sexy but deadly in this racy and cold blooded von Sternberg film. The costumes and mise en scene remain beautiful regardless and aged gracefully. Two versions of the film exist, the German one and the English one. The English version, in comparison, is quite rushed, so the German one should be favoured.
December 14, 2012
I Love Movies, 1941's Citizen Kane Is My Favorite Film.
June 16, 2012
I don't understand German (I'm borrowing a German copy from a friend) but I can still follow it enough that it's interesting. If you're a fan black & white films and old Hollywood, it's worth a watch.
Luc L.
June 2, 2012
A great German film.
March 23, 2009
This is most often remembered for one performance, but the intense dramatic tension that occurs is a team effort, and Marlene Dietrich's performance would hardly have the power it does without Emil Jannings' painful breakdown. This is the kind of tragedy marked from scene one, and though its conclusion seems inevitable, it is not easy to watch, nor to shake off. Joseph von Sternberg shows masterful direction and a vision which told a story still risque by today's standards. It says something about a director when he can shoot Marlene and anyone else in the same frame and not have the former absorb complete audience attention. In fact, there's a perfect symmetry between her dangerous screen persona and Jannings' innocent one; the audience is forced into a situation where they must choose between enjoying the force of Marlene's cruel but sexy manipulation and helping a man too blinded by his own naivety find his way out of a terrible darkness. It's a classic story of hunter and hunted, of the power of the siren, of curiosity and the cat.; and this one is electric.
May 5, 2012
a film that boosted the career of its beloved star, marlene dietrich. a classy tale of doomed morality
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