Germany 1924. Middle aged Dr. Immanuel Rath is a literature professor at a boys college. Most of his students don't much like him, often calling him "unrath" - German for garbage. Dr. Rath learns that many of his boys often frequent a cabaret called Der blaue Engel - the Blue Angel - which he believes is corrupting their impressionable young minds. He heads to the Blue Angel himself to catch the boys in the act and shame them into not going again. Over several visits, Rath is able to catch the boys, but in the process he also understands what attracts the boys, namely the headlining performer Lola Lola. Rath falls under Lola's spell, he who falls in love with her - and she seemingly with him - so much so that he wants to marry her and give up his teaching career to be with her on her travels from cabaret to cabaret. Their relationship ends up not being what either envisioned, the question being how they will both deal with their disintegrating relationship and the reasons behind that ...Written by
During auditions for the role of Lola Lola, director Josef von Sternberg instructed each aspiring actress to bring a "naughty song" with them and prepare to sing it during their audition. Marlene Dietrich ignored the instruction and showed up to her audition without a song and unprepared to sing. See more »
When the professor returns to his class and the boys burst out in uproar, the drawing on the blackboard shows three lines with Lola's name. The director, drawn by the noise, enters the class and now there are only two lines. After the class is dismissed, the third line has returned. See more »
Simultaneously shot in two versions (English and German) with the same cast; the German (with English subtitles) version is more popular because of the heavy German accents of the cast in the English language version. English lyrics for the songs were written by Sam Lerner. See more »
Proper and respectable Emil Jannings, a teacher at a boys high school takes quite an interest in their moral well being. Seems there's this naughty establishment called The Blue Angel in his town where women have been known to entertain in various states of undress. Some of his boys have some postcards of one of the dancers and Jannings catches them with it. After confiscating the material, Jannings decides to go down to the Blue Angel and tell them not to be catering to minors.
Of course he takes one look at the subject of those naughty postcards and since it turns out to be Marlene Dietrich, he realizes his own education has been sadly neglected.
He's spotted the kids in the establishment, but they've spotted him as well. From an authoritarian figure, Jannings is now a figure of derision and has no authority in or out of the classroom. He marries Marlene and tours with her company as a clown. A return to his hometown proves to be more than he can bear.
Though Marlene Dietrich became an international sex symbol from this film and got a Hollywood contract as a result, the film is really the story of Jannings, his downfall, his humiliation, his degradation. Their respective career paths were really meeting halfway in this film. She was going to America on the strength of this film, Jannings was returning to Germany where he became a very big star and leader of Adolph Hitler's amen corner in German cinema
In the supporting cast is also Kurt Gerron who is a magician and manager of the troupe of entertainers Marlene and Jannings are part of. His life had the worst tragedy of all, as a Jew he met death in Auschwitz, but not after undergoing a lot of humiliation before. Not unlike what Jannings had in the film, but this was real life.
The Blue Angel is a milestone film for many people and in an indirect way for Adolph Hitler as well since he got his biggest film star from the cast. Still though it's a stunning bit of cinema with performances that still hold up very well today.
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