Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Blue Angel

For a while now I've been a subscriber to Rogers Video Direct, which is basically Netflix Canada. In addition to tv shows and movies I missed in the theaters, I've added a long (400+) list of movie titles culled from my steady glancing through a DVD guide book. The length of the list means it's often a year or longer before a movie I put on the list actually shows up in the mailbox, which means I often have no idea what the heck it is I'm about to watch when I put a DVD into the player.

Today's selection turned out to be an excellent movie: The Blue Angel, a 1930s Marlene Dietrich movie. Her first starring role, and my first time watching a Dietrich movie, The Blue Angel is about a high school English teacher who falls in love with a burlesque dancer. The first hour or so of the film is high comedy with schoolboy pranks, fistfights, and a lot of running around. Without spoiling the plot (I'm not sure what the rules are on spoiling fairly famous 78 year old movies!), the last third is incredibly tragic and plays off beautifully from the earlier comedic material.

The movie is tame by today's standards, but you can still see glimpses of what made the movie the subject of censorship in the 30s. In one scene for example, the teacher and Dietrich are sitting at a table when the teacher knocks over a bunch of matches; he crawls under the table to pick them up and Dietrich says "Be careful under there, or you might get ran over."

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