Josef von Sternberg Classics At The Egyptian And On Criterion


This Sunday May 23, the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood will be presenting director Josef von Sternberg’s pre-code tale of infidelity and mother-love, “Blonde Venus,” starring Marlene Dietrich, Herbert Marshall and Cary Grant. In honor of the anniversary of both von Sternberg and Marshall’s birthdays, film and photography author Mark A. Vieira will be on hand at 3PM preceding the screening (to follow at 4) to give an in-depth illustrated talk on both the film and the stars behind its making. Vieira is the gifted author behind such outstanding books as “Sin In Soft Focus,” “Irving Thalberg: Boy Wonder to Producer Prince,” “Hurrell’s Hollywood Portraits,” “The Making of Some Like It Hot,” “Greta Garbo: A Cinematic Legacy,” and many others. He is a true expert on the subject as well as an intensely engaging speaker.

As for the film itself, “Blonde Venus” is one of the most beloved of the von Sternberg/Dietrich collaborations and this public screening of a 35mm print is a rare opportunity not to be missed.

This screening coincides with the Criterion Collection’s recent announcement that they will be releasing a box set of three Josef von Sternberg silent classics. This is incredible news as all three of the films included in this set are nothing short of spectacular and have never been released previously on DVD.

The first film, “Underworld” (1927) is a dark gangster tale told with vivid imagery and stark performances. According to Criterion, this film “is widely considered the film that launched the American gangster genre.”

 

The next film, “The Last Command” (1928) earned actor Emil Jannings the first Best Actor Academy Award ever for his truly heart-rending performance as an ex Russian military officer who finds himself in Hollywood after the war. He lands a job working as an actor and is blindsided when his dark emotions and brutal memories take over. It is easily one of the best films of the silent era and Jannings’ performance is unforgettable.

The final addition to the collection is the moody “The Docks of New York” (1928). More than any other of von Sternberg’s silents, this film prepared audiences for the filmmaker’s signature expressionist style and sensuous cinematic approach to storytelling that would later inhabit his films with Marlene Dietrich.

News of this release is downright thrilling and I’m sure Criterion will be scoring the best available prints for this set. Watch here for a more comprehensive review of these films and their transfers.

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Josef von Sternberg Classics At The Egyptian And On Criterion

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