Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel)

Critics Consensus

Marlene Dietrich steals more than one show in this backstage tragedy about a lowly professor besotted with a cruel and enigmatic singer.

95%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 44

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,688
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Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel) Photos

Movie Info

Marlene Dietrich became an immediate international star on the strength of her performance as the temptress Lola Frohlich in Josef von Sternberg's classic tale of love and obsession. Professor Immanuel Rath (Emil Jannings) is a strict and humorless schoolmaster who is shocked when he discovers the boys in his class have been spending their time at a sleazy cabaret called The Blue Angel, where an entertainer named Lola (Dietrich) keeps the men in thrall and sells suggestive postcards of herself. Rath goes to the club in hopes of catching his students and giving them a severe dressing-down, but he instead finds himself entranced by the carefree atmosphere of the club, and is struck by Lola's earthy, sensual beauty. Rath finds himself strongly attracted to Lola, and she later entertains him in her dressing room. When word of Rath's infatuation with Lola spreads to his students, he is taunted mercilessly, and eventually Rath is dismissed from the school. While Lola agrees to marry Rath, she shows little affection for him and delights in humiliating him, making him her servant and forcing him to play a clown in her stage show. The Blue Angel was shot in both German and English language versions; the German is preferable, as most of the cast were obviously more expert in that tongue. Dietrich introduced her theme song, "Falling In Love Again", in this picture.

Cast

Marlene Dietrich
as Lola Frohlich
Emil Jannings
as Prof. Immanuel Rath
Kurt Gerron
as Kiepert
Rose Valetti
as Guste, his wife
Hans Albers
as Mazeppa
Hans Roth
as Beadle
Robert Klein-Lörk
as Goldstaub, a Student, Goldstaub
Gerhard Bienert
as Policeman
Ilse Furstenberg
as Rath's maid
Carl Ballhaus
as Pupil Ertzum
Roland Varno
as Pupil Lohmann
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Critic Reviews for Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel)

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (42) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel)

  • May 22, 2018
    Marlene Dietrich's breakout film from 1930, and the first of her legendary seven films with director Josef von Sternberg, is probably rightfully considered required viewing for the cinephile. She plays a world weary, jaded performer at 'The Blue Angel' cabaret, and one day is visited by a professor (Emil Jannings) who is trying to catch his students in the act of being there. Dietrich is mesmerizing, with a sexuality muted by her ennui, but alive in her mirthful eyes. She wears a top hat and outfits that generously flaunt her legs, and apparently her look was inspired by the artist Felicien Rops. We get the sense that Jannings has a good heart in an early scene where he whistles to his pet bird, but he's also pedantic and we can see why he's openly mocked by his students. When one is caught in the cabaret and says they are there for the same reasons he is, he explodes in anger, but we see his hypocrisy, and it's hard to completely empathize with him. I suppose that's one of things that take away from the film for me - the main characters are not all that likeable. The other is the unpleasantness of the main theme, which is humiliation and debasement. I love von Sternberg's dramatic use of shadows, and that's on display here. The film was Germany's first 'talkie', but it still feels like it has a foot in silent filmdom in places. It's a little ponderous as it plays out, but never boring. Seeing Dietrich sing is fantastic, regardless of what people say about her vocal range. Seeing her saunter about nonchalantly in lingerie or revealing outfits, with the smallest attempts to cover up, is as well. This is a woman completely comfortable with who she is, and one can't help but see Dietrich the woman in the character she plays. One of my favorite moments was when Jannings stands up to an oafish naval man who rudely comes calling for her backstage, and her cool exterior is pierced in the instant she recognizes him for a gentleman who treats her properly. It's not her absolute best, but still, an entertaining film. Some quotes from Dietrich's songs: "Falling in love again, never wanted to. What's a girl to do? I can't help it. What choice do I have? That's the way I'm made. Love is all I know, I can't help it. Men swarm around me like moths 'round a flame. And if their wings are singed, surely I can't be blamed." "Beware of blonde women, they're special, every one. At first you may be unaware, but something is definitely there. A little hanky-panky can be fun, but from their clutches you'd better run."
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 23, 2015
    It's powerful, hypnotic, vicious, twisted, amazing, and horrible.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 13, 2014
    What is most memorable in this first-rate tragic classic, apart from Jannings' superb performance, is Marlene Dietrich's incredibly enticing, magnetic presence - which not by chance launched her into international stardom -, but the film also looks and sounds a bit dated today.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 05, 2011
    Joseph von Sternberg shot two versions of this film. One was in German and the other in English. Apparently they are very much the same. But I only saw the English version, and I almost wish I had seen the other one. The same cast was used, so you can understand that some of the German actors had a very thick accent that was hard to understand most of the time, and half the line is still in German with no subtitles. That being said, it's not as bad as making the story confusing. By today's pacing standard, The Blue Angel would probably be 25 minutes shorter, as it drags in some part and takes a while to get started in the beginning. It was released in 1930, the first sound film was released 3 years prior to this, and it becomes obvious they were still in the experimenting stage. Many scenes still work as if it was a silent movie, the acting also, but when the sound is used, it becomes very interesting. The director has a very good idea of what he could do with it and for me that's the most interesting part of the film. I should also mention the use of light, shadows and sets, as there is a little German expressionism here and there, and it's always effective. The Blue Angel might be slow, but it's not boring, cause it has a very interesting story and the character development is very effective.
    Hugo S Super Reviewer

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