The Song of Songs

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Movie Info

Song of Songs was the first Marlene Dietrich vehicle not directed by Dietrich's "Svengali," Josef von Sternberg. The star plays a zaftig German peasant girl who becomes a nude model (anything to get her out of those ill-fitting 1890s costumes!) She falls in love with a struggling sculptor (Brian Aherne), but her ambitions get the better of her and she marries a hedonistic baron (Lionel Atwill). Leaving her husband, Dietrich sinks further down the social scale by becoming a cabaret singer. She is eventually reunited with the sculptor, but not before smashing the nude statue based on her voluptuous frame, thereby symbolically purging her checkered past. Song of Songs was based on a Herman Sudermann novel, previously adapted into a stage play and then filmed twice during the silent era.


Marlene Dietrich
as Lily Czepanek
Brian Aherne
as Richard Waldrow
Lionel Atwill
as Baron von Merzbach
Alison Skipworth
as Frau Rasmussen
Hardie Albright
as Walter Von Prell
Helen Freeman
as Fraulein von Schwartzfegger
Morgan Wallace
as `Admirer'
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Critic Reviews for The Song of Songs

All Critics (2)

  • There is a fine atmospheric quality to the picture that is tight and consistent, and there is more music underlying the story than you may realize, hut, even so, it is disappointing.

    Jun 13, 2019 | Full Review…
  • The first Marlene Dietrich film not directed by Josef von Sternberg still has some of the Sternbergian sophisticated romantic touch.

    Sep 14, 2006 | Rating: B | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Song of Songs

  • Jul 28, 2017
    The plot to this film is pretty simple, but wow, Marlene Dietrich is fantastic in the leading role, and director Robert Mamoulian makes the most of his actors and the script in crafting a beautiful film. Dietrich skillfully handles her role which shifts from a naïve young country girl, to a model and lover of a sculptor, to the unhappy wife of an older man, and lastly to a cabaret girl. Her performance is especially impressive for the time, when over-acting and exaggerated facial gestures were common; Dietrich by contrast is polished and smooth, sexy in a sultry, understated way, and quite a singer on top of all that. Director Robert Mamoulian, who also directed the brilliant Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1931, pulls all the right strings here, and there are some beautiful shots, examples of which are shifting clouds in front of the moon and sunlight reflecting off the water as Dietrich is out riding. The movie is also elevated by quotes from the poetry of the Biblical book of the Song of Songs, and it's a nice mix of sophistication and pre-Code naughtiness. The scene when Dietrich disrobes for a nude modeling session, where Mamoulian cuts to sculptures to represent her body, brings a smile. The plot itself isn't going to blow you away, but Dietrich will. Very enjoyable.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer

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