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Thursday, May 19, 2011


In her first pic since being sawed in half by Orson Welles (FOLLOW THE BOYS/’‘44), Marlene Dietrich made a post-war landing @ Paramount, her old studio, for this nonsensical romantic adventure with Ray Milland.* He’s an escaped British officer in Germany on the eve of WWII, trying to find a top-secret poison-gas formula from a pacifist professor. Marlene plays the free-spirited gypsy (earth mother rather than femme-fatale for a change) who helps him hide and gets him from pillar to post. And what a pillar!, what a post!, especially in her outrageous costumes & make-up. Lenser Daniel Fapp really goes to town lighting Ms. D for that special gypsy glow. Roma songs, campfires, wicked Nazis, fish stew, torture, a no-holds-barred fight to win Marlene’s favors, suspicious professors; there’s not one believable moment in the whole film. (Well, maybe that fish stew which Dietrich happily slobbers away at.) Mitchell Leisen keeps up the pace on the particularly transparent fake studio sets and Victor Young scores with alternating chunks of Wagner (for the nasty Nazis) and George Enescu (for the dancing Gypsies). In the right mood, it’s pretty irresistible.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Dietrich got second billing for her troubles which may partly explain why she took such a quick disliking to her top-billed co-star.

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