Devil Is a Woman [Import]
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Top Customer Reviews
Being primarily a visual film, don't look for an extremely deep plot or witty banter. The visuals alone make this film, and make this film worth seeing over and over. The atmosphere in this film is one of decadence, and that feeling of falling in love kamikaze-style that just can't be helped.
Many felt that Lionel Atwill was nothing more than a stand-in for Sternberg himself, and that this film reflected his obsession/love/frustration with Dietrich. Dietrich herself had no comment, other than "rubbish!"
I say, the truth of the matter is known only to very few, especially now, so long after the fact, but this film presents a relationship so tortured, so alluring, it's easy to compare the movie to real (?) life. The visual texture is so rich, so heavily veiled, many viewings are needed to see all in a scene. The costumes are outrageous, borderline camp, and only Dietrich herself could make them work, and they do. The photography is exquisite, with so much light and shadow that one could almost see it in color.
Finally, this film failed in its initial box-office run in the thirties, mainly due to the public's lack of sophistication, likely. Be that as it may, this film should used to teach cinematography to all film-makers today.
The crowd scene, the carnival scene that begins the film is one of the most amazing pieces of crowd conrol and deftly choreographed effects ever recorded. It is lengthy and sets the tone of the entire move, for much of the action of the film takes place in the form of flashbacks as two comrades -- one older and one younger -- talk about a 'Certain Woman.' She is the notorious beauty, Concha, played by Dietrich to perfection, in her version of the beauty of Dolores Del Rio.
This is one of those pictures which are really, 'events' in the sense that going to the ballet or witnessing an operatic performance is an 'event.' The detail work in every frame, every face, every costume, every shadow, every highlight on the thousands of baloons and streamers is precisely worked out with super-human skill, and all funciton as a pedestal for Dietrich's fantastic beauty. With this film, and this image, she changed the tradition of Hollywood Beauty to suit herself. Women did not look the same anymore because they did not want to look pre-Dietrich.
The story: A governmental functionary befriends a peasant girl while a train is trapped in a snowstorm. With the girl's mother, he becomes her 'sponsor.' Their relationship is stormy. She uses his money to gain her independence and becomes a successful cafe entertainer in another town. He follows her there and his passion is rekindled. He beats her into submission. Later, he offers to marry her. She avoids that, but manages to get him to buy out her contract with the theatre, and runs off with a handsome young bullfighter.Read more ›
At the center of all this is a Dietrich so beautiful, it is not quite possible to believe she ever existed outside this fantastic world created for her. Impeccably lighted, and costumed in the most flamboyant trappings imaginable, she is a toyingly evil creature of film, more alive than ever. Is it any wonder her character ruins so many men, on film alone you could fall in love with her?!
"The Devil is a Woman" is a completely visual film. It's themes and ideas do not come from what you hear, but what you see. The plot, which seems to hide them, is really needed only that these themes and visuals may gradually reach you. I think, essentially, that story for Sternberg was like the cherry flavor in cough medicine, designed only to help you swallow the truly important stuff. Perhaps we may never reach the center of a film like "The Devil is a Woman." If we did would we find the key to everything, or merely emptiness?
Most recent customer reviews
A work of sophisticated art posing as entertainment, The Devil Is A Woman is high camp stylisation of an unusually luxuriant kind, relentlessly amusing but not remotely silly. Read morePublished on Jan. 21 2002
This Pierre Louys story is set in Seville of the 1890's, where Marlene - the femme fatale, natch - drives one man after another mad with desire before she ruins them...... Read morePublished on Nov. 15 2001
Josef Von Sternberg was in love with, and frustrated by, Marlene Dietrich. His obsession reached its apotheosis in "The Devil is a Woman". Read morePublished on Dec 1 2000 by Ilona Novotny
The really great movies evoke different reactions with each new viewing, as if somehow absorbing our intervening life experiences and sharing insights we'd not noticed before. Read morePublished on June 25 2000 by John McElwee
More exotic kitsch from the Dietrich-von Sternberg collaborations of the thirties. It's not as good as Shanghai Express but it provides its own pleasures. Read morePublished on June 13 2000 by George N. Fabian
Actually this movie goes nowhere, but what a trip! Marlenes' favorite movie because she is absolutely stunning! Read morePublished on Dec 16 1999
A very rare film, which took a long time to be available to Marlene's fans. Excellent copy. Among her films, this is the one she is more beautiful. Read morePublished on Nov. 8 1999 by Aldo