Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. Germany, 1930. UFA Tonfilm, Universum Film. Screenplay by Carl Zuckmayer, Karl Vollmoller, Robert Liebmann, based on the novel Professor Unrat by Heinrich Mann. Cinematography by Gunther Rittau. Produced by Erich Pommer. Music by Friedrich Hollaender. Production Design by Otto Hunte. Costume Design by Tihamer Varady. Film Editing by Walter Klee, Sam Winston.
The stunning film that brought Marlene Dietrich to the international limelight and has Josef Von Sternberg directing her for the first time. Snooty Professor Rath (Emil Jannings) is appalled when he finds out that his college students have been spending every night after school at the sleazy Blue Angel club to watch cabaret singer Lola Lola (Dietrich). Upon going to the club to straighten out both his students and the singer, this sweet little codger falls in love with the lady and marries her. He leaves his class behind and follows her into the life of burlesque, growing more weary and depressed with each passing year until finally he is a broken man and her attentions wander elsewhere. It has a starlit, bittersweet quality that the mentor and his muse never again achieved in the nine subsequent films they did together (though to be fair they only ever really tried to recapture The Blue Angel with Blonde Venus, and failed miserably). Dietrich was the inspiration for singers and drag queens around the world: singing her songs with her hips lazily cocked, her eyes darting around the room with a cool boredom, the absolute embodiment of the modern, brazen woman looking for a better life than the one on offer. An unforgettable classic, the film was remade in English immediately after the original German filming to get American attention and facilitate Dietrich’s Hollywood move (dubbing and subtitles were not technically feasible at the time). The German version is by far superior.