Double Feature

Morocco

Blonde Venus

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Morocco

In their first American film, director Josef von Sternberg and star Marlene Dietrich make an indelible mark, crafting a remarkable pre-code drama that balances melancholy with the smoldering heat of desire. Fresh off the boat to Morocco, a disillusioned singer (Dietrich) becomes a tuxedo-clad nightclub sensation, catching the attention of a ladies’ man Legionnaire (Gary Cooper) and a wealthy suitor (Adolphe Menjou).

Director
Josef von Sternberg
Starring
Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, Adolphe Menjou
Year
1930
Country
USA
Format
35mm
Running Time
92 minutes

Blonde Venus

“What could she do but flee from love? She loved two men at once!” Pantheon director Josef von Sternberg may have been guilty of the kind of rude class-consciousness that could get him kicked off a later picture like Macao by going up against working man’s hero star, Robert Mitchum, but he still had an aesthete’s eye for eye-popping visuals. This surreal, pre-code vehicle for von Sternberg’s favorite leading lady Marlene Dietrich is a case in point, and remains the most bizarre in their long string of collaborations. When her scientist husband (Herbert Marshall) receives an overdose of radium, cabaret entertainer Dietrich revives her racy act to try to gather money for the expensive treatment. Along the way, she has an affair with charming millionaire Cary Grant, hoping to accelerate her fundraising. When her husband finds out how she’s gotten the money, he goes ballistic. Dietrich steals their son (Dickie Moore) and goes on the lam, turning to Grant for help. Which man will our heroine ultimately choose?

“Classic Hollywood and classic Sternberg at their most preposterously outrageous – and at their most glorious.” – Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress

“Von Sternberg puts forth a typically probing analysis of gender and exploitation that’s uncomfortably close to home.” – Leo Goldsmith

“Von Sternberg’s paen to the pain of love in all its variations…lovingly rendered.” – TV Guide

Kim Morgan discusses Blonde Venus on the New Beverly blog.

Director
Josef von Sternberg
Starring
Marlene Dietrich, Herbert Marshall, Cary Grant, Dickie Moore
Year
1932
Country
USA
Format
35mm
Running Time
93 minutes

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