Amy prepares to go on stage

Josef von Sternberg was the sort of man who loved it when a plan came together, and in 1930’s Morocco his master strategy paid off. The plan: having found himself shipped to Berlin by Paramount after a string of Hollywood failures, Von Sternberg decided to find a star there, groom her, and then use her to buy his ticket back to the big time. The star was Marlene Dietrich and even before The Blue Angel, Von Sternberg and Dietrich’s first film together, had been released in the USA, he was back in America using it to tout for business. Summoned by telegram, Dietrich followed him and by the time she arrived Morocco was … Read more

Design for Living

George and Tom and Gilda

One of those pre-Code 1930s comedies that comes wrapped in an aura, Design for Living can’t live up to the sell. It’s not funny, though there is the odd smirk, nor perceptive, unless a comedy about the fickleness of women is what you’re after The aura comes virtue of the boys in the backroom. Noel Coward wrote the original play, then Ben Hecht came in and threw most of that away while working on his screen adaptation, in the process turning Coward’s urbane posh gents into a couple of impetuous workaday types – the Time Out London review called it a “tea cups to beer glasses” transformation, and that’s a neatly pithy way … Read more