THE BLUE ANGEL (Versione Usa – US Version)

Josef von Sternberg

T. or.: Der Blaue Engel. T. it.: L’angelo azzurro Sc.: Carl Zuckmayer, Karl Vollmöller, Josef von Sternberg, dal romanzo «Professor Unrath» di Heinrich Mann, supervisione dell’autore. Adattamento: Robert Liebmenn. F.: Günter Rittau, Hans Schneeberger. Mu.: Friedrich Holländer. Parole delle canzoni in inglese: Sam Lerner. M.: Sam Wintson, Walter Klee. Scgf.: Otto Hunte, Emil Hasler. Cost.: Varady (non accreditato). Su.: Fritz Thiery. Cast: Emil Jannings (Prof. Immanuel Rath), Marlene Dietrich (Lola-Lola), Kurt Gerron (Kiepert), Rosa Valletti (Guste, sua moglie), Hans Albers (Mazeppa), Reinhold Bernt (il clown), Eduard von Winterstein (il preside), Hans Roth (il guardiano), Rolf Müller (Angst, studente), Roland Varno (Lohmann, studente), Carl Balhaus (Ertzum, studente), Robert Klein-Lörk (Goldstaub, studente), Wilhelm Diegelmann (il capitano), Gerhard Bienert (il poliziotto), Karl Huszar-Puffy (proprietario del cabaret), Ilse Fürstenberg (la domestica del prof. Rath), Veintraub Syncopaters. Prod.: Erich Pommer per UFA; 35mm. L.: 2857 m. D.: 104’ a 24 f/s.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

It is well known that Der blaue Engel was shot simultaneously in German and American versions. Consequently two complete negatives were filmed and assembled. Unfortunately, of the German version only inferior quality elements have survived (positive copies and dupes), while the original negative for images and sound has been lost. With it, the photographic quality of the original has essentially been lost as well, which was a fundamental part of von Sternberg’s work in constructing the «Marlene-character» and of film’s international fame. The same can be said for the sound, which is extremely complex, above all in the American version in which the two levels produced by the American dialogues and the dialogues left in German are interwoven. Indeed, the narrative device which justifies the American version has Lola as a native English speaker, while Professor Rath teaches English «at the local High School». As such, there is continual mixing of the two languages, as was typical of the transition period to sound. Fortunately the original negative (picture and sound) of the American version survives, though it has been reworked and contains some parts of inferior quality coming from dupes of that period (for the sound as well). The complex restoration project (still ongoing for the German version, for which the best available materials are being gathered) has for the moment allowed us to bring back the splendor of Der Blaue Engel, though in its American form of The blue Angel, whose restored version gives us a glimpse of the original quality.

Nicola Mazzanti

Emil Jannings’ performance in The Blue Angel is so brilliant that, as a sort of cinema paradox, it ends by inflicting an injury on the picture. It is actually so good that it hurts.[…] The trouble is that he is so infernally moving in his portrayal, so tremendously vivid and real in his portrait of collapse, mental, moral and physical. He builds his picture of dignified pedant so thoroughly and so earnestly that, as you watch his gradual degradation, you are seeing a man you know and believe in collapse before your eyes and you are suffused with a feeling of shame, knowing that you have no right to be there. You have burst in on a private tragedy and you feel that the only thing for you to do is to mumble an apology and withdraw amid embarrassment. You are in intruder, not a playgoer. […] Knowing practically nothing about showmanship, I cannot say whether the all-seeing Paramount organisation was wise in billing Miss Dietrich as the New Garbo or whether it merely failed to realise the German girl’s qualities as a personage. Of course, it is true that the newcomer does look a bit like the Incomparable One, but the resemblance is hardly as striking as publicity has made it. The chief reason why she was at first regarded as an imitation is that her first scene in Morocco was so arranged that in character appearance and manner, she was made to seem merely an impersonation, attractively done, of Greta Garbo in Anna Christie. After that episode she seemed less an imitation and more and more an original person. Now, in The Blue Angel, made before Morocco but shown here after it, it is proven conclusively that she is neither a synthetic nor a publicity-made star.

Edward Weitzel, in «The Moving Picture World», August 27, 1931

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Restoration in 2001 by F.W. Murnau-Stiftung in cooperation with the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchive Berlin / Koblenz with the kind support and technical work of L’Immagine Ritrovata