Blue Girl [1999]

Genre: Short
Five different Hollywood queens are represented in Glamour Girls, a fun Kino compendium of Golden Age titles. The entertainment value of this batch almost makes you overlook the fact that the movies have nothing to do with each other. The oldest film is The Blue Angel, the legendary 1930 classic (filmed in Germany by American director Josef von Sternberg) that made Marlene Dietrich an instant star. The story of an eminent professor (Emil Jannings) brought to his knees by seductive showgirl Lola Lola (that's Marlene) never loses its power, and von Sternberg's eye for voluptuous chiaroscuro and exquisite sado-masochism is fully expressed (he and Dietrich would make six more films at Paramount in the following half-decade). One important note: this is the English-language version of the picture (not dubbed, but shot concurrently with the superior German-language version). Love Me Tonight is the best movie musical you've never heard of, a deliciously clever 1932 romp with Maurice Chevalier as a poor Paris tailor and Jeannette MacDonald as a wealthy aristocrat. Rouben Mamoulian's direction is a landmark of early-sound ingenuity, and the Rodgers and Hart score includes such goodies as "Isn't It Romantic?" (given an epic treatment here), "Lover," and "Mimi." The Good Fairy, from 1935, showcases the wonderful Margaret Sullavan, the throaty-voiced actress whose quicksilver reactions look as fresh and delightful today as they were 70 years ago. Sullavan begins the comedy as an orphan, becomes a theater usherette, and eventually becomes involved with meatpacking magnate Frank Morgan and bewhiskered lawyer Herbert Marshall. The matching of director William Wyler and screenwriter Preston Sturges is not a natural one, to be sure, and Wyler's direction tends to weigh the film down (he was, however, enchanted by Sullavan, whom he married--briefly). The great Sturges patter shines through, and you'll adore Sullavan. 1947's Lured puts pre-TV Lucille Ball in London, where a murderer is killing women he meets through the personal ads. The whodunit isn't difficult to guess, but director Douglas Sirk brings his elegant German precision to the proceedings, and George Sanders and Boris Karloff head a nifty cast of supporting folk. Finally, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) matches Ava Gardner and James Mason in a daft blend of mythology and Hemingwayesque Lost Generation stuff. Ava is surrounded by dashing suitors, but Mason's mystery man lures her into the realm of myth. The movie's got giggle-worthy plot twists and great Technicolor, to say nothing of glamour. --Robert Horton

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