Welcome to William Schoell's GREAT OLD MOVIES blog. Feel free to leave a comment regardless of the date the review was posted -- I read 'em all. Or if you prefer -- and especially if you have any questions directly for me -- email me at tawses67424@mypacks.net and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Click on a label link (labels can be found at the bottom of each post) to find other movies from that year, the star, that director or genre and so on. Or enter a title, director, genre, star or supporting player in the small Blogger "search blog" box at the far left up above and click search blog. [NOTE: While this blog mostly reviews films -- and TV shows -- that are at least twenty-five years old, we do cover films up until the present day.] HAVE FUN AND THANKS FOR DROPPING BY. William.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


BLONDE VENUS (1932). Director: Joseph von Sternberg.

While on a camping trip in Germany Ned Faraday (Herbert Marshall) comes across Helen (Marlene Dietrich) swimming with other pretty chorus girls and it's love at first sight. In one of the swiftest transitions I've ever seen in any movie, practically the next second  the two are married, living in the U.S., and have a cute little boy named Johnny (Dickie Moore). [I mean there isn't even a two-second shot of their wedding let alone any scenes of courtship.] It develops early on that Ned has a serious illness and needs a lot of money to travel to get treatment, so Helen goes back to work [billed as the "Blonde Venus" in a campy "African" night club number in which she first appears in a gorilla suit] and gets the money from playboy Nick Townsend (Cary Grant). What follows is a series of misunderstandings and recriminations, with Helen on the run with Johnny and Ned in pursuit and so on. This is neither one of Dietrich's best performances nor one of her better movies, and Grant, Marshall and even little Dickie Moore come off better than Dietrich. Blonde Venus is the kind of dopey movie in which even while on the run and hungry for food Dietrich can somehow manage to afford a maid [the always-wonderful Hattie McDaniel]! The "Hot Voodoo" number, while utterly impossible to take seriously, is a hoot, and Dietrich's flat singing as delightfully awful as ever. Sidney Toler plays a police detective hunting Helen, and Sterling Holloway has a small role as a friend of Ned's in the early scenes in Germany.

Verdict: At least Dietrich looks beautiful no matter what her tribulations. **.

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