Directed by: Maximilian Schell
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Director Maximilian Schell got the reclusive Marlene Dietrich to agree to appear in this documentary only on the stipulation that she not be photographed as she looked today. Instead, we only hear her in interviews and see her in a rich array of archival footage.
Here is an excerpt from the New York Times review by Vincenty Canby, published Sept. 21, 1986:
“Alfred Hitchock, who never took kindly to suggestions from actors in his employ, once said of Marlene Dietrich: ‘She’s a professional.’
“He then added: ‘She’s a professional actress, a professional wardrober, a professional lighting technician…’
“Without wasting time on false modesty, Miss Dietrich might agree. In MARLENE, Maximilian Schell’s moving, unconventional documentary on Dietrich’s life, career and anxieties, it’s apparent that the remarkably durable performer is still very much in charge of things, or, at least, that she was, in September 1982 when Mr. Schell traveled to Paris to interview her for the film.
“Miss Dietrich agreed to submit to audio interviews, but not to be photographed. She wants the world to remember not the virtual recluse she’s become, but the legend she has been almost from the start of her career. The film that came out of this sometimes quarrelsome collaboration is, I suspect, a far more lively, haunted likeness than any ordinary film portrait would be… [MARLENE] is a portrait of a remarkably strong-willed woman, stage-managing her career right up to the bitter end. It’s also an examination of the very particular, possibly bitter legacy of movie stardom.”NR, 96 Minutes, In English, German and French with English subtitles