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After World War I, a war hero returns to Berlin to find that there's no place for him--he has no skills other than what he learned in the army, and can only find menial, low-paying jobs. He decides to become a gigolo to lonely rich women.
Country orphan Lily goes to Berlin to stay with her tippling aunt, and soon meets Richard, handsome sculptor across the street. Persuaded half-reluctantly to pose for Richard, her physical charms (shown as fully as 1933 mores permitted) soon melt away his 'strictly business' attitude, and they become lovers. But Richard, wanting his freedom, connives at her marriage to his wealthy client Baron von Merzbach... whose household includes a jealous former mistress and a susceptible farm manager. Has Richard still a role to play in her life? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Interesting to see Dietrich, early in her Hollywood career, working with a director other than her Pygmalion, Josef von Sternberg. The latter director provided beautiful but often-static set-ups for framing her, while Mamoulian's musicality and fluid camera release her. (Think also of his direction of Garbo in "Queen Christina," and that film's famous scene in which she moves lovingly and rhythmically--it was timed to a metronome-- around the bedroom, watched by her lover. )
I think this is one of Dietrich's best performances. She passes through many phases, from naive young girl to earthy woman. Her song "Johnny" is sublime--and moving, when she angrily tears into the second chorus after spotting in the audience the lover who had abandoned and disillusioned her.
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