All articles and pages may contain affiliate links. You can read our disclosure policy here.

TCM Star of the Month for May is Marlene Dietrich

Apr 30, 2018 | Star of the Month |

Marlene Dietrich, in a career that spanned eight decades, moved from the cabarets and silent films of 1920s Berlin to international stardom in the movies of Josef von Sternberg and, finally, to a pinnacle of fame as a concert performer of immaculate glamour. Along the way she maintained her reputation as a shimmering beauty with sparkling wit as well as an often-compelling actress.

You can learn more about her and see her complete filmography here.

20 films, Thursday nights in May. Beginning May 10th.

 

** Denotes our must-see picks

marlene dietrich 1932 - shangai express

Marlene Dietrich 1932 – Shangai Express

 

May 10

 

    The Blue Angel (1930) with Emil Jannings

A stodgy professor falls from grace when he’s seduced by a nightclub singer.

The version shown on TCM this month is the full-length German-language version, distributed by Kino International and licensed from the Murnau Foundation in Germany. A new print was struck from the best surviving materials and a new translation of the dialogue was commissioned.

    The Scarlett Empress (1934) with John Lodge

A highly fictionalized biopic of the German-born Russian empress Catherine the Great, the film’s screenplay by Manuel Komroff was supposedly based on Catherine’s diary

    Shanghai Express (1932) with Warner Oland **

A beautiful temptress re-kindles an old romance while trying to escape her past during a tension-packed train journey.

The most beautiful and exotic of von Sternberg’s creations

    Morocco (1930) with Gary Cooper

A sultry cabaret singer falls hard for a Foreign Legionnaire.

Director Josef von Sternberg’s first American film.

    Blond Venus (1932) with Cary Grant **

A nightclub singer gives in to a rich playboy to finance her husband’s medical treatment.

The picture is notable for other reasons, too: It’s fun to watch Dietrich playing the role of a mother, and considering how hypnotically aloof and elegant an on-screen presence she could be, she’s surprisingly good at it.

May 17

 

    Destry Rides Again (1939) with James Stewart **

A deputy who’s sworn not to shoot again takes on a corrupt town boss and a sultry saloon singer.

Surprisingly, Marlene Dietrich’s stature in Hollywood was in decline when the film was made, and Destry Rides Again was an opportunity for the struggling actress to revitalize her career.

    Angel (1937) with Melvyn Douglas

While vacationing without her husband, a married woman falls for another man.

Considered one of director Lubitsch’s and star Dietrich’s most underrated efforts

    The Devil Is a Woman (1935) with Lionel Atwill

A member of the Spanish guard falls for a temptress who once ruined his commanding officer’s life.

For many years, it was believed that The Devil Is a Woman was indeed a lost film until von Sternberg’s personal copy turned up for a revival screening at the 1959 Venice Film Festival.

    Desire (1936) with Gary Cooper

Before they can marry, two society types run off with lower-class loves.

For Marlene Dietrich, Desire marked a significant break from the increasingly remote and stylized worlds of Josef von Sternberg’s films and a demonstration of her ability to stand on her own as a star after the box-office failure of films such as The Scarlet Empress (1934) and The Devil Is a Woman (1935).

    Knight Without Armour (1937) with Robert Donat