movie film review | chris tookey

Blonde Venus

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  Blonde Venus Review
Tookey's Rating
5 /10
Average Rating
5.58 /10
Marlene Dietrich , Herbert Marshall, Cary Grant
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Directed by: Josef Von Sternberg
Written by: Jules Furthman, S.K. Lauren

Released: 1932
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US
Colour: BW
Length: 97

A wife (Marlene Dietrich, pictured) turns cabaret performer and sinner in order to pay for her husband's medical treatment.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Wonderful tosh, well worth seeing for Dietrich's first entrance in a gorilla suit. One has the horrible feeling that Von Sternberg meant at least some of it seriously. Dietrich walks through it as if something else is on her mind - possibly her shopping list.


There is more pleasure for the eye in Blonde Venus than in a hundred of its fellows. But what does beauty ornament? The story of a wife who becomes a kept woman for the sake of her husband, and a prostitute for the sake of her child.

(Forsyth Hardy, Cinema Quarterly)


Weak story, inept direction and generally sluggish.


There is no possible excuse for Blonde Venus, except that it supports the incredibly accurate prediction made in this department some months ago that Marlene Dietrich was due to explode with a loud hollow pop... Miss Dietrich, of course, seems utterly disinterested [sic] in the difficult business at hand and ignores poor Herbert Marshall, a child actor, and the world in general in as complete an exhibition of somnambulance as any actress ever gave an enthusiastic, if misled, public.

(Pare Lorentz)

[Dietrich] walks through her part with all the warmth and quiet restraint of a poker leaning against the fireplace.

(Cy Caldwell, New Outlook)

His latest movie, The Blonde Venus, is perhaps the worst ever made. In it all Sternberg's gifts have turned sour. The photography is definitely ‘arty’ - a nauseating blend of hazy light, soft focus, over-blacks and over-whites, with each shot so obviously ‘composed’ as to be painful. Sternberg's rhythm has declined to a senseless, see-saw pattern. And his kaleidoscopic cutting has reached such a point that the film is all pace and nothing else.

(Dwight Macdonald)

I thought the production dreadful and can see no reason why nearly all of the scenes should take place in grottoes.

(James Agate, Tatler)

It would be hard to imagine a sillier picture than this one.

(David Shipman, The Good Film and Video Guide, 1986)

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