Josef Von Sternberg Don Willis - Essay

Don Willis

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

A Sternberg film is built on paradox and dichotomy, its essence fixed not by one particular image that can be isolated, but by a particular pair of images, or series of images or motifs…. [The Shanghai Gesture] is a Sternberg image set without a film: namely, a virtuoso crane into the depths of a gambling pit near the beginning and a complementary crane out again at the end, echoed by more clipped tracks into the gamblers themselves. As an evocation of a human vortex of feeling and chance, this is as electric and concise a 'fix' on the Sternberg theme as there is. (p. 106)

The whole structure and design of The Blue Angel—classroom/cabaret, professor/clown, students/audience—is...

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