Steven Bach and Maria Riva described Marlene Dietrich's upturned nose as a flaw, but I never shared that view. If you want to see Dietrich in both her stylized and natural states, take a gander at A Certain Cinema, one of my favorite online collections of Dietrich photos. Among these images, I observe no duck, pug, pig or other animal nose. If Dietrich had any facial blemish, it would be the one that has become the object of my obsession whenever I watch her films on DVD, the one that I never notice in studio portraits--likely thanks to judicious retouching. By no means would I regard it as a blot, but I've fixated on it ever since I saw The Scarlet Empress at the Egyptian Theater, where--in the silver screen's magnified proportions--it first became apparent to me. I'm talking about the bump near her lower lip. Has anyone else ever pointed it out? Was it a wart, a scar, a concealed mole? I've never read anything of it. For those of you who may be rolling your eyes or scratching your heads, I've compiled a gallery of screenshots featuring THE BUMP.
Screen caps come from the following films: Rancho Notorious (1,2,3), Destry Rides Again (4,5), Golden Earrings (6), Witness for the Prosecution (7,8), The Spoilers (9), Judgment at Nuremberg (10), Blonde Venus (11,12,13,14,15), The Scarlet Empress (16,17), The Devil Is a Woman (18).
|EXHIBIT A: I'm ready for my close-up, Herr Lang.|
|What? You don't see it? How about now?|
|Of course, Alter had a few tricks up her sleeve--and in her makeup bag.|
|Frenchy, however, wasn't so keen with cosmetics.|
You painted the wrong spot, you hussy!
|Fortunately, soft focus and lighting were on her side to hide it?|
|But not on Lydia's, who missed the mark, too.|
|At least this old slapper got it right!|
|Otherwise, the bump would have given Christine away.|
|This screen capture features two bumps,|
and one is lacking a cherry on top.
|What a pity the lady and the judge hit a bump in their relationship--|
they had such great onscreen chemistry.
|The barely-there bump was even less discernible during Dietrich's youth and under |
Sternberg's direction. Watch the Blonde Venus scene in which Helen reveals to Ned
what she did during his absence. Her face remains at a distance as you see above.
|While his gets closer . . .|
|and closer . . .|
|Only when custody comes up do Helen and the bump try to match Ned's snarl.|
|I think it's the pout that brings it out.|
|Lucy and Desi, how'd you two get here?!|
|Peekaboo! I still see you, bump!|