Stage Fright

Jane Wyman and Marlene Dietrich

When the conversation turns to Alfred Hitchcock films, Stage Fright doesn’t often come up. Notorious, Psycho, Strangers on a Train, The 39 Steps, North by Northwest, Vertigo and even The Birds all regularly make an appearance. Stage Fright not so much. And yet it’s a fascinating film, not least because in it Hitchcock tries to do something different with his formula. All the usual elements are here – the innocent man, mistaken identity, flat-footed cops, the mystery blonde – but everything has been given a distorting twist, inside a movie which itself is set in a world with a distorted relationship to reality, as if all the characters in it have somehow become … Read more

The Blue Angel

Emil Jannings and Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel

    This is the film that made Marlene Dietrich a household scandal back in 1930. It’s the story of how a pompous but respectable schoolteacher is lured on to the rocks by Lola-Lola, the nightclub singer in a Weimar-era club who can’t help “Falling in Love Again” (which Dietrich sings here). Poor Emil Jannings, who played the professor, thought he was the star of the film – as well he might since he’d won the Best Actor Oscar the year before, at the very first Academy Awards. He resisted director Von Sternberg’s choice of Dietrich, then a nobody, as the temptress. Von Sternberg had discovered her acting in a stage play quite … Read more