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Josef von Sternberg
Anna May Wong
On the eve of World War II (1939) English officer Ralph Denistoun is in Nazi Germany on an espionage mission to recover a poison gas formula from Prof. Krosigk. He is helped by Lydia and her band of gypsies. Naturally romance develops along the way. Written by
Don Femia <email@example.com>
Due to a labor dispute, the principal actors had to "live" on the set for a few weeks to avoid crossing picket lines. Marlene Dietrich took the time to learn how to play the zither; it was said she drove the rest of the cast and crew mad with her attempts to perfect her technique. Her efforts paid off, however, as illustrated in the scene where she plays the zither very competently. See more »
In the climax where Lydia is escaping though the wilderness from the Nazis, in some shots she is seen wearing high heels and at other times appears in bare feet. See more »
"When You Wear Those Golden Earrings, Love Will Come To You"
I made my earthly debut on September 26, 1947 and according to my parents when they were alive, as an infant I had a particular liking for the song Golden Earrings that came from this film. It served as my best lullaby in those formative months. I wish it had come from a better film than the one it served as a title tune for.
The film's story is told in flashback by Ray Milland to real life war correspondent Quentin Reynolds on a plane to Paris. Milland's got pierced ears which today would not raise a ripple, but back in 1947 was hardly in vogue, especially for a British brigadier.
Back in 1939 Milland went on a mission to Germany just before war was declared to get a poison gas formula from a German scientist of liberal sympathies. But he and partner Bruce Lester get caught, but manage to escape and split up.
Milland's route takes him to the Black Forest where gypsies are known to hang out and Hitler hasn't started rounding them up yet. They became targets for extermination as surely as Jews were later on. He runs into Marlene Dietrich and she teaches him a few survival tricks and a few tricks of another kind. With that kind of distraction, Milland can barely keep his mind on his mission.
Golden Earrings gets very campy indeed, remarkable since Milland and Dietrich did not get along during the making. On that level it's enjoyable, as serious drama it falls real short as an espionage story.
Murvyn Vye is the head gypsy and if Milland ain't got enough trouble with the Nazis, he's got to fight Vye to get Marlene and the help he needs from the clan. It'a all very silly. Vye was making his film debut and he introduces the song Golden Earrings. Vye had come from the Broadway stage where he played Jigger in the original Broadway production of Carousel.
Paramount got it's number one star and biggest recording star in America at the time, Bing Crosby, to make a record of it. Bing's record sold well, but the big hit came from Peggy Lee. I'm surprised that Marlene didn't sing a full version in the film, it's just her kind of material.
Could have definitely helped the film a lot.
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