109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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domino harvey
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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#201 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 15, 2018 1:16 pm

Shanghai Express is far and away my favorite of these, but I like Dishonored. Don't really care much one way or the other for the rest...

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Lost Highway
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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#202 Post by Lost Highway » Sun Jul 15, 2018 1:31 pm

Dishonored features
SpoilerShow
my favorite death scene of all time. Trust Dietrich to make execution sexy.


After several orders from the US going lost I don't dare to order this, especially as I'm a bit low on money at the moment. :(

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Saturnome
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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#203 Post by Saturnome » Sun Jul 15, 2018 1:43 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 1:16 pm
Shanghai Express is far and away my favorite of these, but I like Dishonored. Don't really care much one way or the other for the rest...
I ordered the set on the strength of these two. It feels like there's little talk about Dishonored compared to the other titles, but I liked it a great deal. So I went thinking the rest must be just as great if not better.

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Lost Highway
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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#204 Post by Lost Highway » Sun Jul 15, 2018 1:54 pm

Saturnome wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 1:43 pm

I ordered the set on the strength of these two. It feels like there's little talk about Dishonored compared to the other titles, but I liked it a great deal. So I went thinking the rest must be just as great if not better.
Dishonored was long regarded as the least of the von Sternberg/Dietrich films, possibly because it came out the same year as Garbo's Mata Hari which was a far bigger hit. After The Scarlet Empress it's always been my favorite.

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Shrew
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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#205 Post by Shrew » Sun Jul 15, 2018 2:25 pm

I tend to think of these films as A-sides/B-sides: Morocco/Blonde Venus, Shanghai Express/Dishonored, Scarlet Empress/Devil Is a Woman. I'm an Empress/Express man myself, but Morocco has Sternberg's best ending (save maybe Last Command) and Dietrich at her most iconic. I also have a soft spot for Blonde Venus because of it's thematically more complex, even if it's aesthetically the most borijng major Sternberg.

Also, Docks of New York is Sternberg's masterpiece and I do not understand why this not more widely acknowledged outside of me and Michael Kerpan.

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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#206 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:24 pm

What do people here make of The Devil Is a Woman? To me it's not a keeper - Dietrich here is completely uni-dimensional and the whole thing is more like farce, and not a very funny one, bordering on the tedious at times. All we're left with is Sternberg's visuals.

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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#207 Post by knives » Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:06 pm

She's only unidimensial in the eyes of the men. The ending is the great depression of that assumption.

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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#208 Post by Lowry_Sam » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:40 pm

Rayon Vert wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:24 pm
What do people here make of The Devil Is a Woman?
It's my favorite. The set designs, dress changes for ever scene & Marlene herself are so over the top, that it's the film that epitomizes high camp for me. I'm surprised they didn't ask for a John Waters commentary on this one.

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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#209 Post by whaleallright » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:48 pm

Docks is really something else. I'm reluctant to call it his best, even though I kind of think it is, since it almost seems an insult to suggest he peaked so early!

BTW Sternberg is the early archetype of a path that's become cliché since the 1980s: make an independent sucès d'estime as a gateway to a career in Hollywood. He was also ahead of his time in more or less burning out within a decade, when so many others of his generation forged careers that would last half a century.

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hearthesilence
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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#210 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:59 pm

It's hard for me to name a "best" Sternberg film - none of his masterworks stand out in that way in relation to the others - but Docks of New York is my favorite.

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dustybooks
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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#211 Post by dustybooks » Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:50 pm

I find The Scarlet Empress totally dazzling, audacious, irresistible. (Ironically I enjoy it and Blonde Venus substantially more than the other Dietrich collaborations.) I haven't seen all of Sternberg's works but either Empress or The Last Command is my favorite so far, though I did find Docks achingly beautiful.

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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#212 Post by david hare » Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:25 pm

whaleallright wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:48 pm
Docks is really something else. I'm reluctant to call it his best, even though I kind of think it is, since it almost seems an insult to suggest he peaked so early!

BTW Sternberg is the early archetype of a path that's become cliché since the 1980s: make an independent sucès d'estime as a gateway to a career in Hollywood. He was also ahead of his time in more or less burning out within a decade, when so many others of his generation forged careers that would last half a century.
Well The Salvation Hunters is pretty early for masterpiece status. But that it is.
As for burning out, surely you dont think so poorly of Anatahan. Or Shanghai Gesture for that matter. Truthis he was his own worst enemy. His pride got in the way. It wasnt just the cost blowout on Empress (over 900 grand for then a pile) that pissed Lubitsch off as producer designateso much as the fact he never explained or apologised for the fact he had pinched the mass revolt sequences from the Patriot. The Spanish government complaint about Devil was the pretext for pulling the plug on his contract at Paramount. Even when he got a chance to comeback with Macao for Hughes he blew it by behaving abominably to the crew. Mitchum threatened to break his neck so Ray shot the picture, but insisted jo keep his credit.

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domino harvey
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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#213 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:30 pm

Criterion should have included the ridiculous soft core porn representation of Dietrich and Von Sternberg bearding for each other in the unbelievably brazen 70s film adaptation of Hollywood Babylon

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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#214 Post by nitin » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:47 am

The Shanghai Gesture is very underrated.

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liam fennell
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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#215 Post by liam fennell » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:24 pm

I think Docks of New York is probably the most purely beautiful/lyrical of all the Sternbergs, and David Hare I too absolutely consider Salvation Hunters to be an out and out masterpiece (and at least equal to Regeneration or Blind Husbands as far as extraordinary silent debuts go) though I've only seen it in a degraded internet version; particularly impressive/moving for me are the shots of reflections in rippling water and of course the barge arm, which despite being a relentless and indifferent machine is more expressive than the actors!

The past few years I went through a huge Jorge Luis Borges phase and curiously he was crazy about the silents and disappointed with the Dietrich pictures! So I guess it's not an unheard of opinion, that he peaked early. Borges is also the only person in print I've ever seen mention having actually seen the lost Dragnet, which he rated highly and remembered fondly.

That said, the Dietrich pictures, appearing as they do near the dawn of the sound era, are IT for me personally and as such I'd like to just say I'm super mega thankful we have HD versions of these now finally in addition to Anatahan and Blue Angel. Dreams are made of this stuff. Catching up with Anatahan last year finally thanks to the MOC set was also a marvelous experience. Holy cow!

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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#216 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:39 pm

I wonder why Salvation Hunters (plugged by Ozu) remains unavailable (in any acceptable form)?

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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#217 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:09 pm

Edition Filmmuseum released The Salvation Hunters a couple of years back; I haven't seen it myself, but by all accounts it's more than acceptable, unless DVD-only is a complete dealbreaker for you. (There is an HD version from the same restoration circulating unofficially.)

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Tommaso
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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#218 Post by Tommaso » Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:53 pm

And what's more, they've also added the only surviving five minutes of Sternberg's 1929 "The Case of Lena Smith" (and just seeing those five minutes makes one convinced that this must have been a major Sternberg silent!). Haven't seen the Filmmuseum disc yet either, only the HD TV broadcast, which looks great. But Filmmuseum are one of the few labels you can basically trust blindly - unlike Criterion ( sorry for this, but I'm still under the impression of the major disaster that CC's "Tree of Wooden Clogs" is...)

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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#219 Post by isakorg2 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:22 pm

The Munich Filmmuseum edition of The Salvation Hunters is more than "more acceptable" - grab it. And also rermarkable is how accomplished Von Sternberg is in his first film.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#220 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:12 pm

Does on just order direct from the Munich Filmmuseum -- or is there a cheaper alternative?

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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#221 Post by swo17 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:17 pm

Check the various European Amazons

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Tommaso
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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#222 Post by Tommaso » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:30 pm

Or jpc.de. Usually the cheapest for these Filmmuseum releases (at least for the 2-disc ones, which doesn't apply to this particular release, though).

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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#223 Post by movielocke » Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:16 pm

I'm kind of mad I missed Dishonored years ago, I remember watching Morocco, Scarlett Empress and Shanghai express and then not bothering with the others because while the latter was fantastic, I didn't much like the other two.

on rewatch, Morocco is still completely meh. the first forty minutes are outright superb, and then somehow the movie keeps going for an hour wherein nothing happens, the last hour is so boring it put me to sleep three times, and took nearly four hours over three nights to watch all of it (looping back several times), and I'm still suspicious I might have missed something. But no, it's just meh. Gary Cooper can at least hold the screen with her, as she blows everyone in Dishonored off the screen.

Dishonored was astounding though, A great little proto-spy thriller with a surprising ending, and Dietrich owning everybody. shame the title makes it sound like a spurned woman torrid affair movie or some such. I figured for years it was a rehash of Morocco. nope.

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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#224 Post by whaleallright » Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:22 pm

david hare wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:25 pm
As for burning out, surely you dont think so poorly of Anatahan. Or Shanghai Gesture for that matter.

No, I didn't mean to disparage those later films, although I don't think they're the equal of his earlier work. I just meant that Sternberg wasn't able to sustain a career in the way that many of his peers were.

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Re: 109, 930-935 Dietrich & von Sternberg in Hollywood

#225 Post by david hare » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:05 pm

I understand, and I am trying to give some background to explain perhaps his own substantial role in ensuring his absence from the cinema for so long. He was a titan in the silent period, and from the Lena Smith fragment god only knows what else we're missing from the lost silents. The DIetrich pictures are one of the most powerful bundles of work in the history of cinema, I am very disapppointed to see so much gainsaying and ho hummery here. If their pictures together were decades ahead of their time then, they remain so today, especially with such a prosaic couple of recent filmie generations who don't "get" metacinema, and the kind of self awarenesss he and DIetrich project into these films is so far beyond "camp" it defies any other filmmaker in history to match it. Nobody could even concieve of Empress again, nor even Venus, which also benefits from the groundwork of Furthman's canny screenplay for its abailty to resurrect and compeltely revoice the "fallen women" precode genre in its own incomparable way. I have been foolishly reading the reviews ot some elsewhere, including a certain doctor, with a mixture of growing dread and growing hilarity. The insistence of "realism" for any of htese pictures especially a film like Blonde Venus or DIshonored is jawbreaking. And isn't DIshonored the triumph of this site at least for the superb elements they were ale to access for the new 4K and resurrect it from neglect, including mine.

The world has never been quite ready for these pictures, and their admiration by some of us which has tried to keep them alive was still waning until this box delivered the goods. I am disappointed though at the lack of any first gen nitrate elements for Morocco but they must have gone long ago. And the missing 15 seconds from Shanghai Express but that also seems to have gone form UCLA"s master dupe nitrate neg back when. No matter. I never thought I would live to see these again in this staggering quality, and having to rely on ever distant memories of left bank theatres in Paris during the 70s and 80s where they kept him alive for those of us who cared with a fervor bordering on passionate madness.

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