The Films of Josef von Sternberg by Andrew Sarris

By Andrew Sarris

Andrew Sarris's first publication is a movie through movie survey of the director who between different issues made Marlene Dietrich a celebrity.

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Extra resources for The Films of Josef von Sternberg

Sample text

L never discussed Eisensteitfs assignments with him. l had troubles of my own. and if my memory serves me correctly. l left for Europe before he had started the manuscript on which he planned to base his lilm. When I returned he was gone, and l was told that the scenario submitted to the studio heads had been too long and incomprehensible for them. This failed to arouse any wonder in me. My o\vn scenarios had always been incomprehensible to the dozen or so overlords who considered themselves competent to translate words into pictures, but because my lms were successful with the masses, and.

Ho\ve\'cr. -\ (‘HIIENNIZ and ‘r|n=. N,-\Kl£I) NIGHT open out on the world. whereas THF. BLUE ANGI-LL turns in on itself. Sternber\*'s a profundity is consequently measured less by the breadth of his vision than by the perfection of his form and by the emotional force of his characters within that form. How much more painfully poignant. too. -\R|E|\', \\here Jannings as the dupe. pure and simple. is treated with amused contempt. By contrast. l. redeems the Jannings character froiu complete ridiculousncss.

For Sternherg a table is not merely a table. but a battlefield around which powerful personalities are arrayed. fully armed with metaphorical knives and forks. The continuous visual field provided by his crane enables him to trace the course of the battle with the steady subtlety which would have been denied to him by mere cross-cutting. Dietrich and Jalfe are more evenly matched than one would expect. and Louise Dresser as the (‘zarina and John Lodge as the sardonic substitute for the impotent Jaffe ht with curious authoritativeness into the baroque background.

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