B1543. (MARLENE DIETRICH) DONALD SPOTO. Blue Angel, the Life of Marlene Dietrich. New York, Doubleday, 1992. 333pp. Index; Bibliography; Photos; DJ. - 0-385-42553-8
“Marlene Dietrich was a German-American actress and singer. Dietrich remained popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself, professionally and characteristically. In the Berlin of the 1920s, she acted on the stage and in silent films. Her performance as ‘Lola-Lola’ in THE BLUE ANGEL, directed by Josef von Sternberg, brought her international fame and provided her a contract with Paramount Pictures in the US. Hollywood films such as SHANGHAI EXPRESS and DESIRE capitalised on her glamour and exotic looks, cementing her stardom and making her one of the highest-paid actresses of the era. Dietrich became a US citizen in 1939, and throughout World War II she was a high-profile frontline entertainer. Although she still made occasional films in the post-war years, Dietrich spent most of the 1950s to the 1970s touring the world as a successful show performer.
The first American collaboration of Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg, MOROCCO, again cast her as a cabaret singer; the film is best remembered for the sequence in which she performs a song dressed in a man's white tie and kisses another woman, both provocative for the era. The film earned Dietrich her only Oscar nomination. A crucial part of the overall effect was created by von Sternberg's exceptional skill in lighting and photographing Dietrich to optimum effect — the use of light and shadow, including the impact of light passed through a veil or slatted blinds (as for example in SHANGHAI EXPRESS) — which, when combined with scrupulous attention to all aspects of set design and costumes, make this series of films among the most visually stylish in cinema history.
In 1982, Dietrich agreed to participate in a documentary film about her life, MARLENE (1984), but refused to be filmed. The film's director, Maximilian Schell, was allowed only to record her voice. He used his interviews with her as the basis for the film, set to a collage of film clips from her career. The final film won several European film prizes and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary in 1984. Newsweek named it ‘a unique film, perhaps the most fascinating and affecting documentary ever made about a great movie star’.”
- Zillah Dorset Akron