|Marlene Dietrich with Dorothy Arzner's pussycat. Appropriate for this post, no?|
Aside from its focus on Marlene's gay appeal, the podcast provides an extensive overview of her life and career that will be of general interest to those unfamiliar with Dietrich or those looking to brush up on their knowledge of her. Whoever researched the biographical content did an admirably thorough job by including quotes from the likes of Maria Riva, Steven Bach, Noel Coward, and Marlene herself. Much to my delight, Miss Dietrich is voiced by a man--David Benson. There are also sound bites of Dietrich's songs that give this podcast buoyancy and clever transitions--such as the last strains of "Black Market"'s strings that segue into Clayton Littlewood's narration about Marlene's early career as a violinist. I only caught one historical inaccuracy--that the Hayes Codes was introduced in 1934. In fact, it was introduced in 1930 but wasn't effectively enforced until 1934. The Hays Office did, however, influence the the script revisions of Blonde Venus in 1932.
Despite the accurate disclaimer that Marlene hated to be identified with her movie roles, Littlewood daringly draws parallels between Dietrich's life and her characters. I find the globe-trotting link between Dietrich and Diane LaVolta compelling enough but consider the connections between Marlene and Amy Jolly a bit of a stretch. Can we really call Amy Jolly bisexual because she kisses a woman and a Francophile because she sings a French song? I regard the Morocco kiss more as a sort of prototype for Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl"--lezploitation that chiefly titillates heterosexual men.