"The Blue Angel" was the film that launched the international career of Marlene Dietrich back in 1930. Sitting astride a chair singing "Falling in Love Again", she played the vampish Lola Lola, who lures men to their ruin. Given a single disc DVD release in 2001, Eureka surpasses that handsome release with a superb two-disc set.
Picture The German version of the film is presented on disc one, with the English version available on the otherwise feature-free disc two. For contrast levels the German version is infinitely superior and has been impressively remastered from the original negative.
Sound Made at the advent of sound recording in films, the thin mono track is no surprise, but the German track again comes out as stronger and clearer than the English. This is a shame, as Dietrich oddly performs the songs better in English, despite what for her is a foreign tongue. Bearing that in mind, the longer German cut of the film is superior in every other way, and even international audiences preferred it due to the bizarre accents that curdle away in the English recording.
Audio Commentary For the German version of the film, there is a fascinating commentary that offers up an encyclopaedic range of facts on the making of this movie. Back in 1930 the sound recording equipment and knowledge to use it was very crude. To mask the noise of the four cameras that were in simultaneous action, they were each built into large soundproof crates. The film was recorded both in German and English, and this commentary is useful for explaining the German mannerisms, which sheds further light on the subtler nuances of the story.
One amusing anecdote concerns Josef von Sternberg's love of the village set. He loved it to look shiny, so took it upon himself to keep spraying it with water, much to the dismay of the production crew. They preferred the matt look and under-painted it, so what little paint was there just washed off - giving them the matt effect they wanted!
German and English Comparison Here you can see a German and English version of a scene side-by side and observe the differences.
Marlene Dietrich Interview This is a short extract from a somewhat bizarre-looking interview conducted in Stockholm in 1971. Apart from Marlene's staggeringly bright lipstick, her two inquisitors stand at either side of her, towering away while she sits and provides answers. She talks about leaving Germany on the night of the premiere of "The Blue Angel", on a ship bound for America. Cables sent to her relayed the success of the film, but she's at pains to point out that Emil Jannings was the star billing of the movie, and not her.
Concert Footage Marlene performs three songs connected to "The Blue Angel", with the benefit of infinitely superior sound quality. "Falling in Love Again" is taken from a concert recorded in Stockholm in 1963, while "You're the Cream in my Coffee" and "Lola" were performed in London in 1972. She gives little introductions to the songs and sings them in her unmistakably deep tones without even the slightest waver. She's what you'd call a class act.
Test Footage When you think of all the recent films where finding anything extra to put on a DVD is supposedly impossible, it's impressive that here we're offered test footage of Dietrich. It's worth watching her concert footage before this, as she refers to this test. It's great stuff, as she sings away, stops for a few puffs of a cigarette, and then carries on.
Additional Special Features Also on disc one are highly detailed production notes (with images), cast and crew biographies, production date guide, and nine photo galleries covering everything from behind-the-scenes shots to advertising.
Ratio: 1.19:1 (fullscreen academy ration)
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono)
Technical Features: Scene selection, animated menus, and subtitles.
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-S57 DVD player.