Sunday, May 2, 2004

Marlene Dietrich

Yesterday, I finished reading Marlene Dietrich: Life and Legend by Steven Bach. Wow! What an amazing life and what a remarkable biography. I was especially impressed with the scholarship (both quantity and quality) that went into writing this book. This engrossing biography is especially good on Dietrich's early life and career - and the background on German life and culture in the first decades of the 20th century is excellent. Highly recommended.

I think - in down-deep, subtle ways, Marlene Dietrich and Louise Brooks were similar sorts of people. Or at least similarly motivated. Both were very beautiful, sexually driven, and drawn to powerful men. (And both men and women were drawn to them.) Both projected their selves into their characters and onto the screen. Both sought to shape their legacies. Both scrubbed floors in atonement. (Their is also a subtle link between their two most famous roles as well:  Lulu = Lola. Dietrich, as everyone knows, was offered the role that Brooks would play - the role of Lulu - in Pandora's Box. A year later, Dietrich would go on to play Lola in the similarly themed film, The Blue Angel. G.W. Pabst directed Brooks, and Josef von Sternberg directed Dietrich: each director was a kind of Svengali to the actress.)

Has anyone else read this biography of Dietrich (or other books on the actress)? Any comments on the similarities between Lulu and Lola, the Blue Angel? 

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