Josef Von Sternberg National Board Of Review Magazine - Essay

National Board Of Review Magazine

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The Blue Angel is surely one of the outstanding pictures of this season's screen offerings. Strictly speaking this is a foreign picture. For it was made in Berlin. But it is a foreign picture with English speech, occasional German interpolations being used for the sake of atmosphere and realism….

[Again] we have a story of the disintegration of a fine character to the point of complete degradation with a tragic flash of his former self at the end which heightens the dramatic contrast. And again the emphasis is upon character delineation rather than upon action…. (p. 9)

The Blue Angel is notable from the directing angle on account of von Sternberg's clever combination of talking and silent film technique. He uses dialogue sparingly and climactically and employs long sequences of purely cinematic story telling. In other words, he allows the camera to tell the story whenever possible rather than letting the actor tell it vocally. (p. 10)

Occasionally Mr. von Sternberg's directorial style leads him into slow tempo as if building up for a dramatic suspense which never quite comes off. This is all the more noticeable in a picture which has a minimum of action and a surplusage of characterization and atmosphere. (p. 12)

"Exceptional Photoplays: 'The Blue Angel'," in National Board of Review Magazine (copyright, 1931), Vol. VI, No. 1, January, 1931, pp. 9-12.