Blonde Venus (1932) – Josef von Sternberg


von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich team-up for another film from the list of titles to watch in the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book following my screening of The Blue Angel.

This time around Dietrich plays Helen Faraday, a young woman, who wooed by a man, Ned (Herbert Marshall) on a walking trip across Europe, marries him and returns to New York with him, where they raise their little boy, Johnny (Dickie Moore – Dickie from the Our Gang comedy shorts!).

When Ned, through the course of his work, becomes deathly ill, they worry that they won’t be able to finance the much-needed medical attention he needs, back in Germany. Helen decides to return to her love of the stage and cabaret to help raise money to help Ned and the family out.

Ned, a true man of his times, has a problem with this… “no wife of mine,” and such nonsense. In today’s times its rather difficult to be empathetic to him, especially with that mindset.

And the worse thing about it is, in this case he’s right.

herbert marshall marlene dietrich 1

She seems to make enough in one night to pay for Ned’s travel expenses and the treatment, all thanks to one man, who has his eye on Helen… Nick Townsend (Cary Grant).

So while Ned is shipped off to get better, Helen takes up with Nick, in fact he picks her up from seeing Ned off, and brings a puppy for little Johnny! I mean, he doesn’t waste any time at all.

Things seem to be going well for Helen and Nick, that is until Ned comes back early, and is rather stunned to find neither his wife, nor child at home. When she finally shows, and he confronts her, she flees, taking Johnny with her. Ned, not to be stopped, files a missing persons report, and has the police scour the country for her, until finally, Ned reclaims Johnny, and Helen returns to Europe, where coincidentally, she finds Nick again.

As much as a I like Grant, and have enjoyed the previous Dietrich films I watched, this one didn’t do anything for me at all, the attitudes and just the way the relationship between Ned and Helen falls apart, with Nick’s encouragement. And Helen’s first musical number seems appallingly racist.

This film, just seems out of time and place completely, and I couldn’t really find a way into it and enjoy it.

Hopefully the next Dietrich title is a little more entertaining.







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