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Sternberg and Dietrich: The Phenomenology of Spectacle explores the philosophical questions broached by the films Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich made together at Paramount in the early 1930s. These are films that rethink faith, appearance, the image of women, the treatment of history and the sense of the world.
This work examines the way in which the unique partnership of director (Sternberg), star (Marlene Dietrich), studio (Paramount), and designer (Travis Banton) created a series of films in which costume functions as a sign to structure each film's narrative and thematic design. Illustrated.
James Phillips's Sternberg and Dietrich: The Phenomenology of Spectacle reappraises the cinematic collaboration between the Austrian-American filmmaker Josef von Sternberg (1894-1969) and the German-American actor Marlene Dietrich (1901-92). Considered by his contemporaries one of the most significant directors of interwar Hollywood, Sternberg made seven films with Dietrich that helped establish her as a style icon and star and entrenched his own reputation for extravagance and aesthetic spectacle. These films enriched the technical repertoire of the industry, challenged the sexual mores of the times and notoriously tried the patience of management at Paramount Studios. Sternberg and Dietrich: The Phenomenology of Spectacle demonstrates how under Sternberg's direction Paramount's sound stages became laboratories for novel thought experiments. Analysing in depth the last four films on which Sternberg and Dietrich worked together, Phillips reconstructs the "cinematic philosophy" that Sternberg claimed for himself in his autobiography and for whose fullest expression Dietrich was indispensable. This book makes a case for the originality and perceptiveness with which these films treat such issues as the nature of trust, the status of appearance, the standing of women, the ethics and politics of the image, and the relationship between cinema and the world. Sternberg and Dietrich: The Phenomenology of Spectacle reveals that more is at stake in these films than the showcasing of a new star and the confectionery of glamour: Dietrich emerges here as a woman who is at ease in the world without being at home in it, an image of autonomy whose critical potential has yet to be realized, let alone exhausted.
In a major revision of feminist-psychoanalytic theories of film pleasure and sexual difference, Studlar's close textual analysis of the six Paramount films directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Marlene Dietrich probes the source of their visual and psychological complexity. Borrowing from Gilles Deleuze's psychoanalytic-literary approach, Studlar shows how masochism extends beyond the clinical realm, into the arena of artistic form, language, and production of pleasure. The author's examination of the von Sternberg/Dietrich collaborations shows how these films, with the mother figure embodied in the alluring yet androgynous Dietrich, offer a key for understanding film's "masochistic aesthetic." Studlar argues that masochism's broader significance to film study lies in the similarities between the structures of perversion and those of the cinematic apparatus, as a dream screen reviving archaic visual pleasures for both male and female spectators.
From the stages of Berlin to anti-Nazi efforts and silver-screen stardom, Steven Bach reveals the fascinating woman behind the myth surrounding Marlene Dietrich in a biography that will stand as the ultimate authority on a singular star. Based on six years of research and hundreds of interviews—including conversations with Dietrich—this is the life story of one of the century’s greatest movie actresses and performers, an icon who embodied glamour and sophistication for audiences around the globe.
Hollywood icon, German dissident, lover, war heroine, distant mother, and eventual recluse. These are just some of the sobriquets attached to Marlene Dietrich. Ean Wood seeks to show the true Marlene Dietrich, the girl from Berlin who would find herself at the centre of world events, a supporter of the Allied cause and movie icon, meeting, working with and loving some of the most powerful and influential men of the 20th century.
New York Times Bestseller: A “greatly entertaining” biography of the glamorous, mysterious German-born actress, written by her daughter (The New York Times). With intimate detail, author Maria Riva reveals the rich life of her mother, Marlene Dietrich, the charismatic star of stage and screen whose career spanned much of the twentieth century. Opening with Dietrich’s childhood in Schöneberg, Riva’s biography introduces us to an energetic, disciplined, and ambitious young actress whose own mother equated show business with a world of vagabonds and thieves. Dietrich would quickly rise to stardom on the Berlin stage in the 1920s with her sharp wit and bisexual mystique, and wearing the top hat and tails that revolutionized our concept of beauty and femininity. She comes alive in these pages in all her incarnations: muse, collaborator, bona fide movie star, box-office poison, lover, wife, and mother. During World War II, Dietrich would stand up to the Nazis and galvanize American troops, eventually earning the Congressional Medal of Freedom. There were her artistic relationships with Josef von Sternberg (The Blue Angel, Morocco, Shanghai Express), Colette, Erich Maria Remarque, Noël Coward, and Cole Porter, as well as her heady romances. And in her final years, Dietrich would make herself visibly invisible, devoting herself to the immortality of her legend. Capturing this complex and astonishing woman, Maria Riva’s insightful profile of her mother has the depth, range, and resonance of a novel, and takes us on a journey through Europe and old Hollywood during an era that is gone but not forgotten.
Belligerent and evasive, Josef von Sternberg chose to ignore his illegitimate birth in Austria, deprived New York childhood, abusive father, and lack of education. The director who strutted onto the set in a turban, riding breeches, or a silk robe embraced his new persona as a world traveller, collected modern art, drove a Rolls Royce, and earned three times as much as the president. Von Sternberg traces the choices that carried the unique director from poverty in Vienna to power in Hollywood, including his eventual ostracism in Japan. Historian John Baxter reveals an artist few people knew: the aesthete who transformed Marlene Dietrich into an international star whose ambivalent sexuality and contradictory allure on-screen reflected an off-screen romance with the director. In his classic films The Blue Angel (1930), Morocco (1930), and Blonde Venus (1932), von Sternberg showcased his trademark visual style and revolutionary representations of sexuality. Drawing on firsthand conversations with von Sternberg and his son, Von Sternberg breaks past the classic Hollywood caricature to demystify and humanize this legendary director.
A look at the life and career of the actress presents more than 150 informal, off-screen photographs that chart her evolution from cabaret singer in the 1920s to screen legend
The approved biography of film star Marlene Dietrich, derived from a series of interviews with the author. It is illustrated with rare photographs.

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