best film: Touch of Evil but it’s not as black and white as it first looks. Von Sternberg isn’t Welles but he’s an important and great director. His work in mise-en-scene (and his best work all included Dietrich) is important when telling the history of the various aesthetic selections. He’s a big part of film style’s history. Blue Angel, Morocco (my god that ending) and Scarlet Empress all give Touch of Evil a run for its money even if none can, singularly, touch Welles’, muscular, eye-popping brilliance. Dietrich doesn’t play a major role in Touch of Evil but she’s absolutely perfect in her scenes—and of course- the final line.

best performance:  Morocco and Blue Angel are right there. Honestly all of her five films with Von Sternberg could be mentioned but if forced to choose I’ll go with Morocco. Dietrich is about presence- she’s not about being a chameleon or having range- but still in Morocco she plays both the seducer and the victim, caught in Gary Cooper’s wake. She doesn’t do both in The Blue Angel so for me it gets the edge because of that.

stylistic innovations/traits: Dietrich, like Marilyn Monroe or John Wayne could dominate the scene with her sheer existence on screen.  As good as the actors around her often are, your eyes, as the viewer, are always on her.  She could play the cold calculating German and clearly the seductress with her musical sequences (Morocco, Blonde Venus and Blue Angel have her singing).

directors worked with: Von Sternberg (5) The collaborations between Von Sternberg and Dietrich are brilliant. She also worked with Wilder (2) twice and then Welles and Lang once a piece.

Top 10 Performances:

  1. Morocco
  2. The Blue Angel
  3. Scarlet Empress
  4. Shanghai Express
  5. Touch of Evil
  6. Blonde Venus
  7. Witness For the Prosecution
  8. Destry Rides Again
  9. Rancho Notorious
  10. Judgement at Nuremberg

Archiveable films

1930- Morocco
1930- The Blue Angel
1932- Blonde Venus
1932- Shanghai Express
1934- Scarlet Empress
1939- Destry Rides Again
1948- A Foreign Affair
1952- Rancho Notorious
1956- Around the World in 80 Days
1957- Witness For the Prosecution
1958- Touch of Evil
1961- Judgement at Nuremberg