Sunday, October 28, 2012

Marlene Dietrich
"The Boys in the Back Room"

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Marlene Dietrich
Destry Rides Again
feature film
(Universal Pictures, 1939)

Marlene Dietrich is one of the sexiest human beings ever to walk the planet. She was also bisexual, and created quite a stir when she had the nerve to appear in men's clothing in the early 1930's.

After a successful movie career starring in several films directed by Josef von Sternberg in the early 1930s, Dietrich was declared box office poison, after appearing in some unsuccessful ones. Luckily, director Joe Pasternak talked her into appearing in the western he was getting ready to shoot, Destry Rides Again. She played the barmaid & chanteuse Frenchy, opposite a young, and already very charismatic, Jimmy Stewart as Tom Destry, Jr.

Destry Rides Again ended up being a smash hit, and Dietrich's career was back on track. It also, perhaps not coincidentally, is my favorite western. In addition to those distinctions, it features one of my two favorite movie fight scenes* of all time. According to legend, the fight was not choreographed. Dietrich and co-pugilist Una Merkel agreed to no closed fists, but that was it for rules. Luckily for them, they got the scene in one take!

There are scads of recordings of today's song (written by the wonderful Friedrich Hollaender) out there, but the one from the film itself is my favorite. None of the Dietrich CDs I own has that particular version, so this one was ripped from a YouTube clip of the performance from the film. The Buy MP3 button above will take you to the movie version of the song on Amazon MP3, from the collection Music and Songs from Classic Westerns. I checked all the iTunes clips, and could not find it, so no link from there. My apologies.


*My other favorite is the awesome fight scene between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David in They Live.

1 biased opinion:

Biki said...

I keep hearing people say she is the sexist human ever, and I've never seen what they see in her. I asked TH about her after we watched Destry Rides Again this summer, and he doesnt think shes sexy at all. So at least in this, for once I'm not alone! whew!

Destry is the only movie of her's that I really enjoyed. She just comes off as way to hard and brittle for me to enjoy watching.

For whatever its worth, to me the sexist woman is Kathleen Turner, I think she had it in shovelfuls.