Acclaimed, award-winning filmmaker Maximillian Schell reconstructs the life and career of the enigmatic film diva. This is accomplished through use of archival footage and commentary from the actress recorded at her home. Schell's job was complicated by the aging actresses's stipulation that her face not be photographed directly. Written by
Director Maximilian Schell got Marlene Dietrich to agree to appear in this documentary only on the stipulation that she not be photographed as she looked at the time. Instead, we only hear her in interviews. See more »
The documentary states that "Dietrich" was the maiden name of Marlene's mother. This is completely untrue. Wilhelmina Dietrich was born Wilhelmina Felsing. Dietrich was the name of Marlene's biological father, Louis Dietrich, after whose death Wilhelmina married Eduard von Losch, who thereby became Marlene's stepfather. See more »
Highlights of this brilliant documentary film must include Deitrich's opinions of directors she worked with. For example Orson Welles was a genius (`Cross yourself before you mention his name'!) She appeared in `Touch of Evil' without a fee when Welles couldn't raise finance. Von Sternberg always made things difficult for her so that she would use her brain and learn something whereas Fritz Lang was a `monster' who had her marks chalked on the floor when she arrived on set but his stride was much longer than hers. Then there's the controversy of Billy Wilder denying Marlene an Oscar opportunity for her superb performance in `Witness for the Prosecution'
`Marlene' includes generous extracts from many of her movies from the silent era in Germany to her final role in `Just a Gigolo' with many gems in between. Deitrich claims never to have watched her own films but director Schell runs excerpts on a video machine and gets her comments.
She also talks about her contribution to the Allied war effort, the desire of the German people for strong leadership and her contempt for Hitler.
Schell & Deitrich, who appeared together in ` Judgement at Nuremberg' often disagree sharply, and listening to Marlene hold her end up in the exchanges it's easy to forget that she was 82 years old when this documentary was made in 1983.
Summing up, `Marlene' is a must-see for anyone interested in older movies and her rendition of `See what the boys in the back-room will have' from `Destry Rides Again' alone is worth the money.
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