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 ... See full summary »
American chemist Ned Faraday marries a German entertainer and starts a family. However, he becomes poisoned with Radium and needs an expensive treatment in Germany to have any chance at being cured. Wife Helen returns to night club work to attempt to raise the money and becomes popular as the Blonde Venus. In an effort to get enough money sooner, she prostitutes herself to millionaire Nick Townsend. While Ned is away in Europe, she continues with Nick but when Ned returns cured, he discovers her infidelity. Now Ned despises Helen but she grabs son Johnny and lives on the run, just one step ahead of the Missing Persons Bureau. When they do finally catch her, she loses her son to Ned. Once again she returns to entertaining, this time in Paris, and her fame once again brings her and Townsend together. Helen and Nick return to America engaged, but she is irresistibly drawn back to her son and Ned. In which life does she truly belong?Written by
Gary Jackson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cary Grant said that Josef von Sternberg directed him not really much during the filming, but taught him the most important thing. On the first day Grant came on the set, von Sternberg looked at him and said, "Your hair is parted on the wrong side." So Grant parted it on the other side and kept it that way the rest of his career. See more »
Josef von Sternberg would, no doubt, dismiss this film as one of his lesser works. Yet, to me,"Blonde Venus" sort of defines his relationship with Marlene Dietrich. The combined attraction of the harlot-mother gives Marlene's acting both sexual radiance and that intimate, moody quality that is so unique to her.
Just watch her in the scenes with her baby boy. She is lovely, glamorous, yet totally attentive to the child's needs, protective and unselfconscious in a way that only Carole Lombard (see "Made for each other" for evidence) managed back in those days. Her presence is so strong that she makes the male stars seem awkward and rigid. Herbert Marshall looks ill at ease, (probably from lack of directorial attention) while Cary Grant sails through the movie, unblessed by inspiration.
This is Marlene's film, through and through. The plot is silly beyond words (suffering in mink, writ large!) but Marlene makes it memorable. Her close-ups in the scene at the railway-station when she realizes she has lost her family tells it all. A lost soul with nowhere to go but down. Von Sternberg (or some intrusive producer) tacked on a happy ending, but the movie really ended there, on a bench. The rest is just wish-fulfilment.
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