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Marlene Dietrich (Movie Icons) [Paperback]

James Ursini , Paul Duncan

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Book Description

20 May 2007 Movie Icons
Marlene Dietrich once said, "I am not a myth." But by referencing the term, Dietrich only reinforces the fact more emphatically. For, using almost any common dictionary definition of that word, Dietrich is a myth. Her image was fashioned by director Josef von Sternberg in films like "The Blue Angel", "Shanghai Express", and "The Scarlet Empress", after which she maintained a Hollywood career that included "Destry Rides Again", "Rancho Notorious", and an accomplished performance in Billy Wilder's "Witness for the Prosecution". She has been an object of worship to millions throughout the decades, up to and including this jaded, post-modern 21st century. She is the "intellectual's pin up girl," as author Herman G. Weinberg called her, of filmmakers and film critics alike. She is the "Monstre Sacre" as one of her recent biographers has labeled her. She is her own "Superior Product," (her daughter's words) manufactured and refined in her fertile brain. In other words, Marlene Dietrich is an icon for all ages. The "Movie Icon" series: People talk about Hollywood glamour, about studios that had more stars than there are in heaven, about actors who weren't actors but were icons. Other people talk about these things, "Taschen" shows you. "Movie Icons" is a series of photo books that feature the most famous personalities in the history of cinema. These 192-page books are visual biographies of the stars. For each title, series editor Paul Duncan has painstaking selected approximately 150 high quality enigmatic and sumptuous portraits, colorful posters and lobby cards, rare film stills, and previously unpublished candid photos showing the stars as they really are. These images are accompanied by concise introductory essays by leading film writers; each book also includes a chronology, a filmography, and a bibliography, and is peppered with apposite quotes from the movies and from life.

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About the Author

James Ursini has co-written and co-edited eleven books with Alain Silver; Ursini and Silver are considered two of the foremost authorities on the subject of film noir. Among Ursini's most notable works is the successful Film Noir Reader series. He has also contributed articles to various film magazines and has supplied the DVD commentary for numerous classic film noirs. He has a doctorate in motion pictures and has lectured on filmmaking at colleges in the Los Angeles area.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars A pictured guide 17 May 2012
By Dr René Codoni - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
fbus18 Marlene Dietrich

German-American Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992), actress, dancer and singer, in a mostly b/w Taschen paperback. It takes a highly talented publisher (such as Berhard Taschen) and a likewise disciplined editor/writer (James Ursini) for such a task. The series is extensive (all movie stars), and generally, the high but compact level is kept.

The problem of the Taschen series is one of choice and selection - there is too much material of mostly very high quality, and, in the case of the Dietrich, an equally talented, witty, beautiful, and sexy personality at hand. An excellent choice of pictures and overall balance. Proven as an ideal coffee table book if you have teenage onwards guests.

Dietrich remained popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself, professionally and stylistically. In the Berlin of the 1920s, she acted on the stage and in silent films. Her performance as "Lola-Lola" in The Blue Angel, directed by Josef von Sternberg, brought Dietrich/Sternberg international fame and provided them with Paramount Pictures contracts. Despite their many common films, they only did about half of all their films together.

Dietrich was known to have strong political convictions and the mind to speak them. In interviews, she stated that she had been approached by representatives of the Nazi Party to return to Germany, but had turned them down flat. Dietrich, a staunch anti-Nazi, became an American citizen in 1939. Glamour and exotic looks cemented her stardom and made her one of the highest-paid actresses of the era.

Throughout World War II, she was a high-profile frontline entertainer. In December 1941, when the U.S. entered World War II, Dietrich became one of the first celebrities to raise war bonds. She toured the US from January 1942 to September 1943 (appearing before 250'000 troops on the Pacific Coast leg of her tour alone) and it is said that she sold more war bonds than any other star.

During two extended tours for the USO in 1944 and 1945, she performed for Allied troops on the front lines in Algeria, Italy, England and France and went into Germany with Generals James Gavin and George Patton. When asked why she had done this, in spite of the obvious danger of being within a few kilometres of German lines, she replied, "aus Anstand" -- "out of decency".

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