Der blaue Engel
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The Blue Angel (1930) More at IMDbPro »Der blaue Engel (original title)

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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

Professor Immanuel Rath (Emil Jannings), a not-well-liked teacher at the local Gymnasium (a college prep school), becomes enamored with and eventually marries cabaret singer Lola Lola (Marlene Dietrich), which is the beginning of Rath's downfall as both a professor and a man.

The Blue Angel is based on Professor Unrat (literally Professor Garbage), a 1905 novel by German novelist Heinrich Mann [1871-1950]. The novel was adapted for the movie, titled 'Der blaue Engel', by German screenwriters Carl Zuckmayer, Karl Vollmller, and Robert Liebmann, along with Austrian-American film-maker Josef von Sternberg (who also directed the movie). Both the novel and the movie were banned in Nazi Germany in 1933 as being 'contrary to the German spirit.'

The Blue Angel is the name of the cabaret where Professor Rath meets Lola Lola.

Two versions of the movie were filmed, one in German and one in English. Those who have seen both versions claim that the German version (with English subtitles) is the superior, basically because German was the native language of the primary actors, but also because some of the dialogue was changed in the English version, which changes the motivations of various characters. For example, in the scene where Rath spills Lola's cards on the wedding night and says that, as long as he has a 'penny they will never be sold', the German version has Lola replying, 'Well you can never tell...we better keep them,' implying that they might be able to use them in the future. In the English version, Lola demands that he pick them up before they 'get dirty,' denigrating his pride as well as his ability to care for her with his own money.

The role of the sad clown (played by Reinhold Bernt) has been interpreted in two ways. One is that he is a foreshadowing of what Professor Rath is about to become (note that they both wear the same costume). A second interpretation is that the sad clown was once in a similar relationship with Lola.

After five years of being on the road as Lola's husband, Rath has been reduced to the position of playing August the clown in the magician's magic act. When he learns that the show has been booked into The Blue Angel in his home town, Rath refuses to go back, but Lola eventually talks him into it. As Lola's troupe arrives at the club, some of the previous performers are leaving. One of them, the young Strongman named Hans Adalbert Mazeppa (Hans Albers), falls in love with Lola at first sight and decides to stick around a bit longer. The house is packed on opening night, and Rath can't bear to face the people he once knew when he was a professor. Things are made worse by the attention that Mazeppa is paying to Lola and the fact that Lola is enjoying it. When it comes time for Rath's debut, he can barely face the audience. His humiliation is compounded by the magician's act, which involves smashing Rath in the head with raw eggs. His humiliation becomes complete when he sees Mazeppa nuzzling Lola's neck offstage. When it comes time during the act for Rath to crow like a rooster, he rushes off the stage and attempts to strangle Lola. He is eventually stopped by Mazeppa and placed in a strait-jacket. Some time later, after Rath has calmed down, he is released from the strait-jacket. He puts on his ratty coat and hat and sneaks out of the club while Lola sings 'Falling in love again...' Rath makes his way to the school where he used to teach. In the final scene, the school watchman finds Rath slumped over his old desk, grasping the edge with his hand. The watchman attempts to remove his hand but is unsuccessful. As a small circle of light shines on Rath, the camera pans away and bells can be heard ringing in the background.

Unknown. He is shown unmoving, yet gripping the edge of his desk. In the novel, he does not die. Rather, he steals the wallet of an ex-student and, as he runs through the town, he is mocked and derided. The commentary by German film historian Werner Sudendorf on the Kino disc states one of the changes from book to script was having him die at the desk. In the "German" version (but not in the "English" version) the school watchman is explicitly shown lifting Rath's head by his hair and finding it completely limp. Also, in several earlier "American" cuts, this scene is missing completely; the film ends on a Dietrich song instead.

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