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

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Marlene Dietrich and Theresa Harris
THE FLAME OF NEW ORLEANS (1941). Director: Rene Clair.

In old New Orleans lady of leisure Countess Claire (Marlene Dietrich) has set her cap for the wealthy older banker Charles Giraud (Roland Young). But Claire has left behind quite a reputation in St. Petersburg, and to deflect Giraud's suspicion she also pretends to be another notorious woman from Russia, Claire's lookalike and [kind of] cousin, Lily. Complicating matters is a lusty sailor named Robert Latour (Bruce Cabot), who has an eye for Claire (and Lili)  and vice versa. One could say that Flame of New Orleans is Dietrich's Two-Faced Woman [in which Greta Garbo pretended to be two different women] not just because of the plot but because Flame is similarly mediocre. However, the actors, especially a surprising Cabot, all do a good job, and they are backed by such stalwarts as Franklin Pangborn, Mischa Auer, Anne Revere, Laura Hope Crews, Andy Devine, and a host of talented black actors, including Theresa Harris [Baby Face] as Clarie's saucy, sexy maid Clementine. However, the film is predictable and not as much fun as it sounds. Clair also directed It Happened Tomorrow.

Verdict: Pleasant in many ways but minor. **1/2.  

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