American chemist Ned Faraday marries a German entertainer and starts a family. However, he becomes poisoned with Radium and needs an expensive treatment in Germany to have any chance at being cured. Wife Helen returns to night club work to attempt to raise the money and becomes popular as the Blonde Venus. In an effort to get enough money sooner, she prostitutes herself to millionaire Nick Townsend. While Ned is away in Europe, she continues with Nick but when Ned returns cured, he discovers her infidelity. Now Ned despises Helen but she grabs son Johnny and lives on the run, just one step ahead of the Missing Persons Bureau. When they do finally catch her, she loses her son to Ned. Once again she returns to entertaining, this time in Paris, and her fame once again brings her and Townsend together. Helen and Nick return to America engaged, but she is irresistibly drawn back to her son and Ned. In which life does she truly belong? Written by
Gary Jackson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cary Grant said that Josef von Sternberg directed him not really much during the filming, but taught him the most important thing. On the first day Grant came on the set, von Sternberg looked at him and said, "Your hair is parted on the wrong side." So Grant parted it on the other side and kept it that way the rest of his career. See more »
Billed as The BLONDE VENUS, a sultry German cabaret singer will do anything to save her sick husband and care for their child.
Acting under the flamboyant direction of her mentor, Josef von Sternberg, legendary Marlene Dietrich fascinates as a tender mother fiercely protecting her small child, who spends her evenings as a seductive stage siren, captivating audiences in America & France. She is equally good in both postures, her perfect face registering deep maternal love and sphinx-like allure. Dietrich is incredibly gentle crooning an old German lullaby at her son's bedside, while the contrasting image of her emerging from an ape suit to sing 'Hot Voodoo' in a nightclub is one of the Pre-Code Era's most bizarre images.
Two British actors compete for Marlene's attention. Distinguished Herbert Marshall, with a voice like liquid honey, is ideally cast as Dietrich's conflicted husband. Playing a chemist poisoned by radium, his face reveals his humiliation at having to be supported by his wife; later, he manifests pent-up rage when he discovers her 'betrayal.' Cary Grant, just on the cusp of becoming a major film star, plays a powerful political boss whose arrogance mellows as he pursues Dietrich's affections.
Little Dickie Moore, one of the OUR GANG members, is terrific as the infant son who is the bridge between Dietrich & Marshall. Here was a kid who could really act and tug at the viewer's heartstrings. Sidney Toler is amusing as a low-key detective. Gene Morgan, as a talent agent, and Robert Emmett O'Connor, as a theater owner, very realistically portray denizens from the sleazy underbelly of the entertainment world.
Movie mavens will spot some fine performers in unbilled cameos: silly Sterling Holloway as one of the student hikers in the first sequence who discovers Marlene skinny-dipping in the forest; Clarence Muse as a stuttering bartender; dear Mary Gordon as Marshall's informative landlady; big Dewey Robinson as a gruff greasy spoon owner; wonderful Hattie McDaniel as Dietrich's New Orleans maid; and prim Marcelle Corday as Marlene's maid in Paris.
Paramount gave the film lavish, and slightly decadent, production values. The live chickens flapping about in Dietrich's apartment during the French Quarter sequence are a nice touch.
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