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 ...
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Banished from various U.S. protectorates in the Pacific, a saloon entertainer uses her femme-fatale charms to woo politicians, navy personnel, gangsters, riff-raff, judges and a ship's doctor in order to achieve her aims.
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 her band of gypsies. Naturally romance develops along the way.Written by
Don Femia <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Due to a labor dispute, the principal actors had to "live" on the set for a few weeks to avoid crossing picket lines. Marlene Dietrich took the time to learn how to play the zither; it was said she drove the rest of the cast and crew mad with her attempts to perfect her technique. Her efforts paid off, however, as illustrated in the scene where she plays the zither very competently. See more »
In the climax where Lydia is escaping though the wilderness from the Nazis, in some shots she is seen wearing high heels and at other times appears in bare feet. See more »
Both Ray Milland and especially Marlene Dietrich had given great performances more than once and starred in a number of good to outstanding films, that both stretched them and played to their strengths (consider both important when it comes to acting). While not one of the all-time greats when it comes to directors, Mitchell Leisen in my mind was deserving of far more credit. The story for 'Golden Earrings' also sounded intriguing, so the promise was hardly non-existent let alone small.
'Golden Earrings' happened to be something of a comeback for Dietrich, entertaining the troops during the war meant an absence from the screen. While she doesn't fare badly at all here, she was deserving of a better comeback, in terms of overall quality for the film itself, than this. There have been far better representations of Milland as well. 'Golden Earrings' didn't strike me as an awful film, it is better than said though do agree with the criticisms against it. Great too it is a long way from being, didn't think overall it was particularly good.
Dietrich is 'Golden Earrings' biggest merit, she clearly has fun here and is immensely charming. It is hard to believe that she was absent from the screen at all, it was like she never left. Leisen also does a good job with the director, it is stylish and clever with touches of necessary subtlety. Some of the supporting cast do their best in unsubtle caricatured roles, especially Murvyn Vye.
Visually, 'Golden Earrings' is good looking, with slick photography and designed handsomely and evocatively. The music is both fun and dramatic, if at times obviously utilised. The title song is a memorable one, very haunting. Some funny moments and some poignant ones.
However, the script is a bit of a mess tonally, with a mix of comedy and drama, and in a way that jars at times. The comedy falls on the wrong side of camp, am aware that campness was the intent and was expecting it to be part of its charm but it was done to overkill effect here to the point of exhaustion. Although the poignant moments are there, too often the more dramatic elements veer on the melodramatic. Any suspense is not there enough, and the too often ponderous pace and overlong length are relatively big offenders as to why.
The story gets ridiculous frequently and has the same problems as the script, while the characters never feel real, with the supporting characters being caricatures. Other supporting cast members are bizarre and camp it up to extremes, particularly Bruce Lester. Milland's performance is inconsistent, at times too heavy-weight and at other times too low-key. His chemistry, what little there is of it (hardly any), is never harmonious and reminiscent of a meal with flavours that clash too much with each other. Apparently they didn't get along when filming and it shows.
In summary, watchable but strange. Doesn't turn to gold. 5/10
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