The Films of Josef von Sternberg by Andrew Sarris

By Andrew Sarris

Andrew Sarris's first ebook is a movie by means of movie survey of the director who between different issues made Marlene Dietrich a celeb.

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Yet if they surrender to disastrous. even faintly ridiculous impulses. they do so as undcmandingly and as unobtrusively as possible. Here again a plot synopsis cannot possibly suggest the preciseness of Sternberg's sensibility. To say that a woman gives up everything for love is to oversimplify the civilized complexity of an intrigue triangulated by a cafe canary. a Foreign Legionnaire. and a mustachioed man of the world, a plot less written than wired for the star voltage generated by Gary Cooper.

Let her die. Sternberg implies. for being faithful to her nature as a woman, for matters of sex rather than state. When an idealistic young oicer refuses to participate in the execution. Stcrnberg quickly cuts away from the (1930). Adolphe Menjou and Marlene Dietrich. Courtesy Herman Weinberg 3| 5| youth's foolish forensics to Dietrieh's airmative application of her last earthly makeup. This inspired . . injection of the cosmetic into the cosmic makes the. audience laugh at the absurdity of female vanity.

Wlien. two years or so after we lirst met. Eisenstein came to Hollywood to undertake the task of makine Dreiser's novel. l welcomed him and the two capable assistants he brought \\ith him. I talked with all three quite often. l never discussed Eisensteitfs assignments with him. l had troubles of my own. and if my memory serves me correctly. l left for Europe before he had started the manuscript on which he planned to base his lilm. When I returned he was gone, and l was told that the scenario submitted to the studio heads had been too long and incomprehensible for them.

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