The Blue Angel

April 12, 2005

The Blue Angel

Really, I should title this Der Blau Ange, because I watched the German version with English subtitles on.

I watched this a few weeks ago during spring break. I had told the students to watch a movie made before 1950, and this was one that I had long been curious to see.

Of course, this is not first impressions but the exact opposite, the memories of the movie that persist through a month of other reading, viewing, grading, and writing.

I watched the movie to see Marlene Deitrich. What I remember is Emil Jannings in the role of the Professor. He is fat and pompous, but from the very first moment - he goes to feed his pet bird, it is dead at the bottom of the cage, his landlady shrugs and says "it never sang anyway" - I felt a sort of bathos for the man.

He goes to a seedy nightclub, The Blue Angel, to try to chase his students away. He ends up meeting and falling for Lola Lola, played by Marlene Deitrich. That seedy nightclub is a much quoted place: I now see where Cabaret, Damn Yankees, and even Blazing Saddles stole some of their ambience. Of course, the Blue Angel makes the Kit Kat Club look classy - which is a mighty impressive feat. Still, the professor falls for Lola despite the warning looks from the old, mute clown, a character I remember well even though he did not speak a single line.

The fat manager manipulates the Professor, the Professor marries Lola,is fired from his job, goes on tour with Lola and the manager, and slowly declines and finally dies, humiliated and alone, after failing in his attempt to kill Lola. It is a very sad movie.

J. did not like it and asked me to turn it off every time she was around as I was watching it. I found it an uncomfortable movie, I like feel-good stories, but a movie whose scenes and characters have stuck with me.

Good stuff.

Posted by Red Ted at April 12, 2005 08:27 PM | TrackBack
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