17 June 2011

Dietrich's First Rolls Royce--A Barn Find?

This unrestored 1929 (or was it 1930?) Rolls Royce Phantom, which was on display at the Saratoga Automobile Museum in 2007, was reportedly Marlene Dietrich's first set of wheels in Hollywood. Like many Dietrichian legends, this one is shrouded in conflicting details that may frustrate the fact-finders among you. Simply identifying who gave Dietrich this vehicle will make one's head spin. Was it her movie studio Paramount? Was it her "producer" Josef von Sternberg? Or was it inexplicably Warner Bros. exec Jack Warner? Clearly, it was Mr. Warner, consoling Dietrich over a decade in advance for having to play Edward G. Robinson's wife (image from Film Noir Photos) in Manpower. If it were Dietrich's "producer" von Sternberg, we need to get the facts straight. Gregory Peck was not the lead actor in Morocco--everyone knows Paul Robeson played opposite Dietrich! Read more about this vehicle's "history" below, and you will learn a new nickname for Maria Riva (no, not Heidede or The Child!):

According to the above, the vehicle was most recently owned by Kansas-based Roger Morrison, and this link suggests that Morrison (or whoever the current proprietor is) has taken efforts to restore the Phantom to its former green glory. In that link, you should also note that the two Dietrich photos appear to feature different cars; compare the convertible tops, the tires, and--most significantly--the metalwork around the tires.

If reading the above tortured you, be relieved the know that a more likely back-story regarding this vehicle appears here. Furthermore, you can read about other cars associated with Dietrich here.

EDITED TO ADD: I just skimmed through Morocco and noticed the car in 3 scenes.

First, when Dietrich bids Gary Cooper farewell...

Second, after Dietrich and Adolphe Menjou ditch a dinner party to see whether Cooper has been injured...

Finally, when Dietrich leaves Menjou to follow Cooper into the desert...

EDIT AGAIN: Thanks, Daily Mail, for showing your love for these screen caps!

Incidentally, this car sold for a jaw-dropping figure.

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