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Marlene (1984)

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Retrospective on the career of enigmatic screen diva Marlene Dietrich.


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Title: Marlene (1984)

Marlene (1984) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Annie Albers ...
Herself (voice)
Bernard Hall ...
Marta Rakosnik ...
Patricia Schell ...
Ivana Spinell ...
William von Stranz ...


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

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Release Date:

2 March 1984 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Marlene  »

Box Office


$852,676 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


Marlene Dietrich: I don't have kitschy feelings like that. None of us did. I was born a German. We didn't have kitsch. We didn't have sentimental feelings. I have feelings for people, but I have no feelings for cities or things like that, no.
See more »


Features North by Northwest (1959) See more »

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User Reviews

pushy, arrogant, overly aesthetic attempt to go deeper
16 September 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

For me it's this simple: the clips from Dietrich's movies are great. They are hard not to love, all of them in different ways. And the clips from documentary footage are moving, too, and make sense in putting her life in order.

But the insinuation of the director, the interviewer, into her life, and into her emotional state, is damaging both to the film and to the subject. Yes, there are little moments when Dietrich says things that seem to be truthful, and seem to actually matter. But there are a very few seconds or minutes of the whole. Much of the film has Schell cajoling and annoying the poor woman.

At first you think Dietrich is just posturing and full of herself, saying how she isn't interested in digging up her past. But as it goes you realize how right she must be, and how appropriate (especially with such an up and down life, with WWII in the middle of it). But Schell just keeps pushing with his hautiness, as if we the viewers appreciate his relentlessness.

I did not. It left a terrible taste in my mouth, and I for one want to be a "dreamer" and enjoy both the real woman, whatever she was willing to show of her, and the star, which we know from her movies. This documentary does little for either side of her life. It's mostly about the ambitions of a comparatively small person, the director Max Schell.

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