Recently, I’ve been trying to pick up cheap DVD box sets on Amazon. As a fan of Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg, one of the sets I needed to get was Universal’s Glamour Collection set devoted to Dietrich. (Of course, only one of these are Universal films – the rest are Paramount.) While I would have preferred it to be devoted just to the Dietrich/von Sternberg collaborations, the two other films in the set weren’t that bad at all.
The set includes:
- Morocco – 1930, Josef von Sternberg – I did a full Film Friday entry on this film here.
- Blonde Venus – 1932, von Sternberg – This is a cool, pre-code film that finds Dietrich as a singer (again), who is torn between her husband (Herbert Marshall) and a classy, upper class gentleman (played by a dashing young Cary Grant). I liked this one and it’s a nice hidden gem.
- The Devil is a Woman – 1935, von Sternberg – This was their last film together and is actually pretty decent, despite its shockingly short running time (just 76 minutes). Their relationship was certainly souring at this point and you can certainly feel that as you watch the film.
The later two films in the set flash forward to the 1940s. Both Rene Clair’s The Flame of New Orleans (1941) and Mitchell Leisen’s Golden Earrings (1945) are entertaining examples of her lighter fare. I particularly liked Golden Earrings, mostly because I’m a sucker for Ray Milland. He’s a fantastic, underrated actor. It’s surprising to know that this comedy, in which he plays a British agent who has to masquerade as a gypsy, was made the same year that he gave an Oscar-winning performance in Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend.
I would have loved more von Sternberg films, but I understand that Universal probably wanted this set to focus on the star, not the director. I just wish we got some more additional features beyond a couple of trailers. Even a commentary on Morocco would have been great.
Dietrich remains one of the most alluring screen stars, whose beauty will never be matched. This set does her justice, despite the lack of features.