10 January 2014

Jean Marais reads Jean Cocteau's Salutation to Marlene Dietrich (1954) [...

Jean Marais reads Jean Cocteau's Salutation to Marlene Dietrich, written in 1954 when Marlene appeared in Monte Carlo for a Polio benefit. (The recording, and Marlene's speech at the end, were likely done later).

Photos show Marlene at the benefit performance in Monaco, in Paris and London; with Marais and Cocteau (between 1954 - 1959); receiving the Legion d'honneur (1951); and at the 10th anniversary of the liberation of Paris.


Marlene Dietrich! ... Your name, at first the sound of a caress, becomes the crack of a whip. When you wear feathers, and furs, and plumes, you wear them as the birds and animals wear them, as though they belong to your body.

In your voice we hear the voice of the Lorelei: in your look, the Lorelei turns to us. But the Lorelei was a danger, to be feared. You are not: because the secret of your beauty lies in the care of your loving kindness of the heart. This care of heart is what holds you higher than elegance, fashion or style, higher even than your fame, your courage, your bearing, your films, your songs.

Your beauty is its own poet, its own praise. There is no need for us to speak of it, and so I salute, not your beauty but your goodness. It shines in you, as light shines in the moving wave of the sea: a transparent wave coming out of the far distance, and carrying like a gift, its light, its voice, and the plumes of foam, to the shore where we stand.
From the sequins of the "Blue Angel" to the dinner-jacket of "Morocco", from the shabby black dress of "Dishonored" to the cockfeathers of "Shanghai Express": for the diamonds of "Desire" to the American uniform: from port to port, from reef to reef, from crest to crest, from breakwater to breakwater, there comes to us (all sails flying) a frigate, figurehead, a Chinese fish, a lyre-bird, a legend, a wonder: Marlene Dietrich!

(Translated by Christoper Fry)

Written as introduction for Miss Dietrich's appearance at the French Polio Benefit in Monte Carlo (Monaco

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