The Devil Is a Woman (1935)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Devil Is a Woman Photos

Movie Info

This is the last film Hollywood goddess Marlene Dietrich made with her mentor Joseph von Sternberg, the distinguished filmmaker who made her a star, and it was not only her least popular film, it also generated a minor international controversy between Spain, where the story is set, and the US. Taking place in the 19th century during the revolution, it centers on Dietrich, a Spanish seductress with a spider-like tendency to destroy the lives of those who love her. The film opens as Galvan, a young soldier encounters the beautiful vamp and instantly falls in love. Later he tells this to his buddy Don Pasqual who is horrified to learn that she is the same vixen who destroyed his life. Attempting to warn his friend, he tells his grim story, which unfolds via flashback. It all began five years ago when he met and fell in love with her on a train. The wealthy Don Pasqual becomes obsessed with the woman and begins showering her with gifts, favors, and a posh apartment. His nagging, over-bearing mother disapproves of the affair and for good reason. Soon the woman takes the smitten Don Pasqual for everything and then demands more. The masochistic fellow is more than happy to comply and so goes off in search of more money. Not long afterward, she callously dumps him. Later, after restoring his fortune, he finds her dancing in a bar in Cadiz. Once again he gives her everything he has, and again she leaves. And so it goes. The younger fellow is impressed by the story and promises to try and stay away from her, but like his friend he too is weak and in the end, tragedy for one of the men ensues. The controversy for Spain came from the film's unflattering description of the behavior of the Guardia Civil, and from intimations of government brutality. They banned the film there and requested that the US State Department ban it also. They complied and as a result, very few copies of this film exist.
Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Paramount Pictures


Marlene Dietrich
as Concha Perez
Cesar Romero
as Antonio Galvan
Lionel Atwill
as Don Pasqual
Alison Skipworth
as Senora Perez
Don Alvarado
as Morenito
Morgan Wallace
as Dr. Mendez
Lawrence Grant
as Conductor
Charles Sellon
as Letter Writer
Luisa Espinal
as Gypsy Dancer
Tempe Piggott
as Tuerta
Hank Mann
as Foreman, Snowbound Train
Edwin Maxwell
as Superintendent, Tobacco Factory
Donald Reed
as Miquelito
Eddie Borden
as Drunk in Carnival Cafe
Henry Roquemore
as Duel Informant
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Devil Is a Woman

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (4)

While Devil is a somewhat monotonous picture, Sternberg has given it clever photography and background.

Full Review… | April 8, 2016
Top Critic

Sternberg's universe is a realm of textures, shadows, and surfaces, which merge and separate in an erotic dance.

Full Review… | April 8, 2016
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

This column regards The Devil Is a Woman as the best product of the Sternberg-Dietrich alliance since The Blue Angel.

Full Review… | April 8, 2016
New York Times
Top Critic

It's a story of obsessive love, and von Sternberg's version is certainly obsessive. There's a slightly crazy daringness about his approach to the mythic.

Full Review… | April 7, 2016
New Yorker
Top Critic

Rarely was Dietrich more powerful than in this simmering, sophisticated romance, tightly directed by Von Sternberg.

Full Review… | April 8, 2016

Even bemused viewers will delight at Dietrich's sublimely ridiculous costumes as well as some of Hollywood's most awe-inspiring imagery. The elusive, unobtainable object of desire has really never been more sumptuously captured.

Full Review… | April 8, 2016
Radio Times

Audience Reviews for The Devil Is a Woman

Dietrich and Von Sternberg considered The Devil is a Woman to be their best picture. The film is stunning. Of course, Dietrich does that Voodoo that only she can do so well, and Von Sternberg is the Magister Ludi of classical film. This is their masterpiece. The acting is commendably brilliant. The script moves with the pace of a runaway freight train. The emotional tension escalates along a sharply ascending curve - and the film delivers a punch that transforms each and every viewer - revealing more about themselves through the machinations of the main characters tossed on the unpredictable sea of love. Dietrich delivers, perhaps, the greatest screen performance of the decade - and destroys the egos of every other character leaving a wake a mile wide and infinitely deep. Dietrich proves the powers of women over men, time and the planet we currently inhabit. Unmissable.

michael carmichael
michael carmichael

Total camp, but it can only be appreciated on that level since its frustrating depiction of frustrating women (and the men who love them) grows tedious very quickly. Edward Everett Horton is a bright spot as the only one who always seems to know that the film is kind of ridiculous (sometimes it appears that Dietrich catches on, but other times I questioned it).

Zane Umsted
Zane Umsted

A lot of fun, a bit like The Blue Angel but more comedic. Dietrich is quite funny as the manipulative heartbreaker, going a little more over-the-top than her usual cool detachment. I was excited to see Edward Everett Horton's name in the credits, but his role is pretty small and his accent (or lack of one) sounds out of place among the rest of the cast. Sternberg's talents are on full display, especially in the opening carnival scenes which are a delight.

Martin Teller
Martin Teller

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