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 Post subject: Josef von Sternberg
PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2011 5:09 pm 
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JOSEF von STERNBERG
(1894 - 1969 ), Austrian-American


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"Born in Vienna, raised and educated in both Austria and the United States, Josef von Sternberg was one of several contract directors who brought a distinctly European inflection to Paramount’s house style. In Sternberg’s case the accent was notably Germanic. He fashioned a unique Hollywood expressionism, with its play of light and shadow, sensuous images and exotic production design, sexual symbology and frank eroticism. Sternberg’s best films—all made for Paramount between 1930 and 1935—often were set in foreign locales and were populated by cynical, dissolute outcasts; they generally were weak on plot but remarkably strong on style and characterization."
- Schirmer Encyclopedia of Film

"His films build dream worlds around the edges of society, and then they shatter the illusion."
-The Film Buff's Catalog

"There is a sense in which Josef von Sternberg never grew up. In his personality, the twin urges of the disturbed adolescent towards self-advertisement and self-effacement fuse with a brilliant visual imagination to create an artistic vision unparalleled in the cinema."
-The St. James Film Director's Encyclopedia


Filmography
1925 The Salvation Hunters
1926 Exquisite Sinner (lost)
1926 A Woman of the Sea (lost)
1927 Underworld
1928 The Last Command
1928 The Dragnet (lost)
1928 The Docks of New York
1929 The Case of Lena Smith (lost)
1929 Thunderbolt
1930 The Blue Angel
1930 Morocco
1931 Dishonored
1931 An American Tragedy
1932 Shanghai Express
1932 Blonde Venus
1934 The Scarlet Empress
1935 The Devil is a Woman
1935 Crime and Punishment
1936 The King Steps Out
1939 Sergeant Madden
1941 The Shanghai Gesture
1943 The Town (short film)
1952 Macao (w/ Nicholas Ray)
1952-8 Anatahan (aka The Saga of Anatahan)


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 Post subject: Re: Josef von Sternberg
PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2011 5:26 pm 
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The quotes I got above often go on to say that Sternberg is strong on style or characterization but weak on plot, but I didn't include those parts because I just had my first Strenberg experience watching The Blue Angel, and while the plot isn't complex or something that you would believe in the real world, it's nevertheless very powerful, doing exactly what it was supposed to do. That said, it's the presentation (both in terms of the acting and the cinematic style) that really steals the show. From the opening shot of the warped houses, to the physicality of the sound design, to the laconically drunken dreaminess of nightclub's atmosphere, this comes across like a Tom Waits version of a Roy Andersson movie, only the overall feeling of strangeness seems much more natural and less affected than it sometimes can in the work of those two. Anyway, not sure if this is a typical Strenberg film, and I'll wait till seeing some others to decide if it's the best first watch, but I enjoyed this movie a great deal.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef von Sternberg
PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2011 9:28 pm 
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Watched The Scarlet Empress. It's an impressive achievement in many ways, but it's so vicious that it kind of makes me want to throw up.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef von Sternberg
PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2011 10:45 pm 
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Where are you finding his movies? I just exhausted myself trying to look for The Blue Angel to no avail. It's the German versions you're watching, right?


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 Post subject: Re: Josef von Sternberg
PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:53 pm 
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I actually watched both. I got the English version (as well as The Scarlet Empress) from torrentz.eu, and watched the German version on Netflix.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef von Sternberg
PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:46 am 
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May I please ask why you would watch an English version if the film was originally German? I understand that the cut is a little different as well, but I have always been very much opposed to the distributing and watching of films in a language different from its original. This is, of course, excepting the lovely Italian horror films and Italian movies in general.

And Smallows, I got mine from the EUREKA! DVD Box Set of Classics Of German Cinema. Both versions are included on that DVD. It's Region 2, though...


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 Post subject: Re: Josef von Sternberg
PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:02 am 
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PBR Streetgang wrote:
May I please ask why you would watch an English version if the film was originally German? I understand that the cut is a little different as well, but I have always been very much opposed to the distributing and watching of films in a language different from its original. This is, of course, excepting the lovely Italian horror films and Italian movies in general.

Well I didn't know there were two versions of The Blue Angel when I went to download it. It wasn't until I was halfway through the English version that I realized I hadn't understood half of the things that were being said, paused to look for subtitle files, and finally found out there were two versions of the film. I finished the English version and then immediately looked for the German version, saw that it was streaming on Netflix, and watched it. Moral of the story is to always check Netflix first, I guess.

Also who the hell FILMS two different language versions? Pretty crazy; this is my first encounter with such a thing.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef von Sternberg
PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:19 am 
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There is no Netflix in Belgium... Also I didn't know the two versions were separately filmed either. That is really bizarre. Which one should I watch? I have no intention really of watching both.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef von Sternberg
PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:36 am 
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Hard to say. In the English version you can't understand what is being said half the time because (1) these are not native English speakers, (2) sometimes they decide to speak in German anyway, and (3) it's hard to tell what people are saying in early sound films even when 1 and 2 are not the case. But at the same time, I found myself far more entranced by the magic of the film in the English version because I wasn't distracted by subtitles. The German version provides subtitles so you know everything that is being said, and there are some key ironies that are probably important to a full understanding of the film that you won't be able to hear in the English version, but since you can mostly follow the plot of the movie just by closely watching what's going on and the actor's expression, it's hard to call the German version essential. Ultimately I enjoyed the English version better, but I don't know if it's because I wasn't distracted by subtitles or if it's because the German version makes it more literal and less ambigiously creepy or if it's because I watched it first. So there's a complicated non-recommendation for you.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef von Sternberg
PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 6:17 am 
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yeah thanks bro :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Josef von Sternberg
PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 1:01 am 
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I'd be surprised if there are many Hollywood films from the 30s more totally lurid than The Devil is a Woman. I couldn't believe that got away with that closing line. Anyway, entertaining flick. Starting to see what people mean by Sternberg being stronger on style and character than plot. Governer Paquito is hilarious.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef von Sternberg
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 1:08 am 
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Dreww wrote:
Also who the hell FILMS two different language versions? Pretty crazy; this is my first encounter with such a thing.


When filming Vampyr, Dreyer re-shot pretty much every scene with the actors mouthing the different languages where the film was to be released. German, French, and English, I think. I imagine stuff like that happened in Europe a lot then.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef von Sternberg
PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:10 am 
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Vampyr was fucking amazing.


I liked The Devil Is A Woman, but it was not the best of von Sternberg. I will try to catch up on some more of his films, especially The Blue Angel and The Docks Of New York.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef von Sternberg
PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:28 am 
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Saw The Blue Angel last night. Drew was spot on about the slight weirdness permeating it. It wasn't overbearing at any point, but it did give the film a very unique feel. Tie that together with the plot's at times stark transitions, and you've got yourself quite the effect. Am excited to watch The Scarlet Empress next.


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 Post subject: Re: Josef von Sternberg
PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:04 am 
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I know this is not limited to Jozef von Sternberg films, but I'm sure he had quite a hand in popularising this. I can't fucking stand Marlene Dietrich singing. She does a good enough job showing what kind of character she is by acting. She doesn't have to sing songs badly cabaret-style in order for us to grasp who she is.

Fuck her singing scenes in Morocco, The Devil Is A Woman, Destry Rides Again and Stage Fright and probably many more movies...


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