Samuel (Billy) Wilder (1906–2002) once expressed a wish that he could spend his 100th birthday at The Museum of Modern Art Read more
Posts tagged ‘Marlene Dietrich’
Josef von Sternberg (1894–1969) has already been represented in this series by The Docks of New York (1928) and Morocco (1930). After The Blue Angel and Morocco, Sternberg went on to make five more semi-autobiographical films with his star and lover, Marlene Dietrich. In my judgment, the best of these were Shanghai Express, The Scarlet Empress, and the confessional The Devil Is a Woman. The films starring his “discovery,” Dietrich, are the centerpiece of the director’s career and represent perhaps the highest point achieved in cinema’s early sound era. Read more
On March 31, 1930, Marlene Dietrich appeared on the stage of Berlin’s Gloria Palast for the premiere of The Blue Angel before sailing that very night for America to work on Morocco. The director of both films, Josef von Sternberg (1894–1969), had long since departed, expecting never to see the actress again. Read more
These notes accompany the program And Yet More Competition: Walsh and Tourneur on December 16, 17, and 18 in Theater 3.
The career of Raoul Walsh (1887–1980) represents the flip side of that of Mickey Neilan (see last week’s post). Both were rakish protégés of D. W. Griffith, but Walsh found the self-discipline and instinctive artfulness to manage a fifty-year directorial career. Although he worked in all genres, Regeneration speaks to his special facility with “gangster” films and the tragic destinies of their heroes. Some of his best films, including The Roaring Twenties (1939), High Sierra (1941), and White Heat (1949), fall into this category. Happy endings were not requisite, but he could still wax lyrical over the massacre of Custer in They Died with Their Boots On (1941). His auteurist personality was not always universally appealing. He occasionally had a penchant for sophomoric humor, as in his sequels to What Price Glory (his fine 1926 film adaptation of Laurence Stallings’s Broadway hit), which continued to pair Victor McLaglen and Edmund Lowe. Although not so important as John Ford or Howard Hawks, Walsh has an honored place in the history of Westerns. In Old Arizona (1928) is the first talkie shot largely on location, and The Big Trail (1930) is spectacularly inventive in its use of an experimental widescreen process. He worked productively with virtually everyone, from Humphrey Bogart to Mae West, and he discovered—and named—John Wayne. Walsh was an archetypal example of a studio director (Fox in the 1920s, Warner Brothers later) who accepted divergent assignments and managed to mold them into personal statements. Hollywood filmmaking would have been much poorer without him. Read more