Nice mix of sophistication and pre-code naughtiness
The plot to this film is pretty simple, but wow, Marlene Dietrich is fantastic in the leading role, and director Robert Mamoulian makes the most of his actors and the script in crafting a beautiful film. Dietrich skillfully handles her role which shifts from a naïve young country girl, to a model and lover of a sculptor, to the unhappy wife of an older man, and lastly to a cabaret girl. Her performance is especially impressive for the time, when over-acting and exaggerated facial gestures were common; Dietrich by contrast is polished and smooth, sexy in a sultry, understated way, and quite a singer on top of all that. Director Robert Mamoulian, who also directed the brilliant Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1931, pulls all the right strings here, and there are some beautiful shots, examples of which are shifting clouds in front of the moon and sunlight reflecting off the water as Dietrich is out riding. The movie is also elevated by quotes from the poetry of the Biblical book of the Song of Songs, and it's a nice mix of sophistication and pre-Code naughtiness. The scene when Dietrich disrobes for a nude modeling session, where Mamoulian cuts to sculptures to represent her body, brings a smile. The plot itself isn't going to blow you away, but Dietrich will. Very enjoyable.
- Jul 28, 2017
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