Toronto Silent Film Festival: Marlene Dietrich-The Woman One Longs For

Despite Marlene Dietrich insistence for years that The Blue Angel in 1930 was her screen debut, she made close to 20 silent films. Near the end of the silent era, her fame rose appreciably due to this sophisticated, erotic thriller love triangle -one that could easily have been made by G W Pabst or even Josef von Sternberg. Translated for the screen from a 1927 novel, the fluid, modern direction melds beautifully with cinematographer’s lingering odes to expressionism, proto-noir and romantic tragedy.

A young businessman’s plans for marriage undergoes a disturbing shift when he glimpses an alluring, mysterious woman on a train-a woman who seems to be mysteriously tied to a rather sadistic man. He becomes obsessed with her and deserts his wife, leaving their honeymoon plans in tatters. As he follows this captivating woman, his mind surges with plans to get rid of the other man so he can be with her. But plans can and do go awry and everyone spirals into a tragic core.

Here you’ll see the foundation of the Dietrich mystique-the eyes, the cheekbones, the camera lingering on her famous legs whenever possible, the sexual tension that arises whenever she interacts with a man. In the end, the Dietrich character remains an enigma, neither wholly innocent nor femme fatale, foretelling the future for Dietrich characters for the rest of her career.

Preceded by: Lotte Reiniger's Cinderella 1922. Reiniger's astounding hand cut delicate silhouettes pairs with the very un-Disney version of Cinderella-be warned-there's spicy interitles and violence.

Live musical accompaniment by Bill O'Meara

Tickets available from Eventbrite or at the door $17 $14 (seniors or under 25yrs). Festival Passes & Sunday Passes also available.

TSFF runs April 14-16