16 December 2009

Concha The Magnet

My best friend went on a camping trip to the Smokey Mountains with her boyfriend. They went into a store that sold nothing but magnets and found me this little treasure. A magnet of The Devil Is A Woman. Concha is now on my fridge! Please note I didn't make any magnetism jokes.

30 August 2009

Dietrich. Brazil. 1959.

Wonderful rare photos of Marlene's 1959 tour of Brazil in this video:

The poster of this video has an interesting blog about Marlene's visit to Brazil.

14 July 2009

06 April 2009

Steven Bach (1940-2009)

Steven Bach passed away on March 25, 2009 according to the MD newsletter. Mr. Bach was a scholar, producer and the author of the brilliant Marlene Dietrich: Life and Legend releases in 1992. It is simply one of the best books ever written on Dietrich. He was in contact with her and had many interesting conversations with her. He was also the rarest of creatures: a true gentleman. I wrote Mr. Bach a 'fan letter' and he was kind enough to answer. 

If anyone would like to get the official MD newsletter go to

10 March 2009


I thought today of sharing this still of Marlene as Concha in The Devil Is A Woman (1935). I always thought Concha got a bad rap as 'Concha The Savage' or 'destroyer of men'. So much of the film is someone's version of her. She really is beyond gorgeous in this classic.

04 March 2009

Grand Hotel

Over at The Platinum Blog Starring Jean Harlow, Lisa Burks tells the interesting story of what happened to the Grand Hotel Register, which was signed by all the guests as they arrived at the premiere for the film at Grauman's Chinese in April 1932.

Below is a page from the register, which survives in a private collection:

Guests "signed in" at the Grand Hotel, top to bottom:
Mr & Mrs Cecil B de Mille, Marlene, Rudi, Anita Loos, John Emerson (producer & husband of Anita Loos), Mr & Mrs ??? Barclay, Pat O' Brien, Jean Harlow, Paul Bern, Joan Crawford, Franchot Tone.

MGM made a promo short about the event, "Hollywood Premiere" - available on the Grand Hotel DVD, and also on youtube. Marlene only apprears briefly - this was MGM publicity, after all.

The Hat She Hated?

I thought I'd carry on the hat theme with this posting. I found this cover of Silver Screen at a market. It looks like the costume from Angel, so it may be the hat Dietrich fought with Ernst Lubitsch  about. According to Steven Bach's bio, Lubitsch said wear it and Dietrich said "no".

03 March 2009

Stage Fright

This being my first post, I was torn as what to post. Since Joseph mentioned Stage Fright, I thought I would post this still I had gotten in Los Angeles. I hope you like it.

02 March 2009


At Berlin's Deutsche Kinemathek Museum, you can view a letter that Dietrich wrote to Hitchcock's official biographer, John Russell Taylor, about the director. In her own words: "He frightened the daylights out of me. He knows all about motion picture technique - most directors don't know as much." According to William Cook of The Guardian, Hitchcock's experience in the Berlin film industry during the 1920s influenced his later work. You judge for yourself. The exhibition, The Casting a Shadow - Alfred Hitchcock & His Workshop, is open until May 10th.

I don't believe I ever saw Jigsaw, but I loved the promo pics of a bereted Dietrich. Now, we can speak in tongues and whirl like dervishes around a beret that once graced her head at the Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition, Hats: An Anthology, until May 31st. The V&A site has an informative interactive gallery.

To refer again to The Guardian, a blog on its site makes the argument that Hollywood perpetuates the supporting actress status of non-native English speaking stars, mentioning Penelope Cruz's Oscar win. The article, however, then mentions Hollywood's preferential treatment to Northern European foreign actresses such as Dietrich over the Lusophone Carmen Miranda. Thoughts?

Finally, who has a copy of Vanity Fair's imaginary interview between Dietrich and HRH Queen Marie of Romania?

15 February 2009

White House hanky-panky

San Francisco Chronicle writer Martin Rubin reviewed Cari Beauchamp's new Kennedy bio, Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years, which name-drops Dietrich for her "White House romp" with JFK. I remember reading about this bizarre love triangle in Maria Riva's bio, but I never realized these shenanigans had taken place in the presidential residence. I suppose Jackie O. was too busy thumbing through color swatches for the Red Room to notice.

While I look forward to reading this book, I wonder whether Beauchamp gave us all she had to offer in her sneak-peek Vanity Fair article. A tour of the West Sitting Hall and 3-6 minutes of awkward lust in an unnamed bedroom. I suspect it was the Queen's Bedroom, which presidents have used to "reward" friends and allies. At least Dietrich had the panty perfume to show (smell?) for it.

11 February 2009

Love letter to the Vampire in museum exhibit

At the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia, a Dietrich love letter to Mercedes de Acosta will be on a Valentine's Day-themed exhibit. On February 11, 13, 20 and March 25, education coordinator Farrar Fitzgerald will lead tour groups of up to 6 visitors age 8 and up through epistolary schmaltz such as "I wanted to heal all your wounds and instead, because I see that I can't heal them, I give you new ones. I wanted so much to give you happiness." The tour is free with museum admission ($10 adults, $8 seniors, $5 students and children over 5).


27 January 2009

Posters and Dresses

I must say that I've always appreciated this Blonde Venus movie poster, the black-gloved arms obscured against the black background as well as the drapery clinging to the hips cleverly referencing the famous Venus de Milo statue. Certainly, others share my appreciation. Last year, Peter Sachs sued the German Historical Museum of Berlin for his belated father's Blonde Venus poster. After the museum claimed that the poster wasn't in its possession, Sachs sued the museum for a collection of over 4,000 posters that belonged to his father. The most recent news indicates that the court recognizes Sachs as the legal owner, but I haven't seen any updates since last week. If you're interested in the history behind the poster collection, click here. One article was terribly biased toward Sachs, resorting to a kitschy headline seemingly meant to trigger old World War II sentiments--"U.S. Ex-Pilot Named Owner of Gestapo-Looted Poster Collection" (later edited to the less vulgar "Ex-Pilot is Owner of Nazi-Looted Posters, Judge Says").

Although both sides may feel sore about the issue, I do hope that some arrangement is made to keep the exhibited posters in their current displays and also to keep these posters preserved for future displays and research. At the German museum, professionals are handling them. Sachs doesn't even know what he'd do with them.

Interestingly, the British government has also made the news by banning the export of 11 Vionnet dresses, whose bias-cut design won Dietrich's favor according to reports and--if memory serves me correctly--Maria Riva's biography. British cultural bigwigs now vie for time, hoping some wealthy benefactor will purchase the dresses from their anonymous private owner. Could Britain's actions set a precedent for the state-owned German museum to follow?

Dietrich dogged by Drew Barrymore

In a recent interview, Drew Barrymore compared her dog Flossie to "Greta Garbo in Grande Hotel or Marlene Dietrich in Sunset Boulevard." I guess it is easy to get one's Hollywood--um, female dogs, if I may--mixed up. Notwithstanding, Dietrich's face is one that could launch a thousand ships. Swanson's teeth, however, could clear the Redwood Forest.