Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN (1935). Director (and photography): Josef von Sternberg.

Anyone who's interested in examining the famous Dietrich mystique need look no further than this 1935 classic directed by her great admirer [and lover] von Sternberg. At the turn of the century during a carnival in Spain, Don Pasqual (Lionel Atwill) tells his friend Antonio (Cesar Romero) about his long-time love for the beautiful if cold-hearted Concha (Dietrich) in an attempt to warn him away from her -- or does he have another objective? This interesting and amusing study of unrequited love and love-finally-won is beautifully acted by all three principals, not to mention Alison Skipworth as Concha's mother and Edward Everett Horton as the fluttery governor, who's also smitten with Concha. The movie is unpredictable and highly sophisticated. One could argue that the ending is wish fulfillment on von Sternberg's part [he was only seven years older than Dietrich, but less attractive than Atwill], but it works beautifully. Atwill, who toiled in many B movies and horror items and always delivered fine performances, is given one of his most memorable roles in this picture. Dietrich sings the delightful "Three Sweethearts." This is miles ahead of von Sternberg junk like Macao.

Verdict: Dietrich and a fine cast in top form. ***1/2.

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