The Blue Angel

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The Blue Angel (Der blaue Engel) is a 1930 film from Germany's Ufa (Universum Film Aktiengesellschaft) studio, directed by Josef von Sternberg, loosely based on Heinrich Mann's novel Professor Unrat, and starring Emil Jannings. The film is considered to be the first major German sound film and it brought world fame to actress Marlene Dietrich.

The plot follows Emmanuel Rath (Jannings) through a transformation from esteemed educator at the local Gymnasium to a destitute vagrant in Weimar Germany. Rath's descent begins when he punishes several of his students for circulating photographs of the beautiful Lola Lola (Dietrich), the headliner for the local cabaret, "The Blue Angel." Hoping to catch the boys at the club, Professor Rath goes to the club later that evening and meets Lola herself. He soon becomes enthralled with the girl and begins to woo her, slowly being overcome by lust and jealousy regarding the others who watch her act. Tragedy ensues.

Notable also for introducing the song Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt‟ (usually translated as "Falling in Love Again") which (along with "Lili Marleen") became Dietrich's Signature Song. Those familiar with Dietrich's later deep vocal growl are often surprised by her thin soprano in this film.

Tropes used in The Blue Angel include:
  • Animal Motif: The professor crows like a rooster in two different parts of the film: at his wedding reception when Lola is making chicken noises, and when he's humiliated on-stage at The Blue Angel.
  • Break the Haughty: Rath.
  • Come to Gawk: The students and later the professor.
  • Exploding Calendar
  • Femme Fatale: Lola Lola
  • Foreshadowing: The silent clown that appears when the professor first arrives at The Blue Angel? He's going to be succeeded by the professor in five years.
  • Handsome Lech: Hans Albers' strongman, who becomes Rath's rival for Lola's affections.
  • It Got Worse
  • Leitmotif: The opening notes of Mozart's Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen‟ (as played on the town-clock) become symbolic of the respectable life that Rath loses; Lola's „Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß‟ symbolizes her faithlessness.
  • Meaningful Name: The main character's name, Rath (which means "advice, counsel, good sense"); his students call him "Unrath," which (now spelled without the "h") is German for "something worthless, garbage, dross" -- "a bad idea."
  • Sad Clown: The professor, becoming a clown in Lola's troupe to support them.
  • Stage Magician: The Master of Ceremonies Kiepert (Kurt Gerron, who would later die in Auschwitz) makes Rath a stooge in his magic act.
  • Star-Making Role: For Marlene Dietrich.
  • Stocking Filler
  • Teens Are Monsters: Rath's pupils aren't the most grateful bunch.
  • Your Cheating Heart: While performing his act, Rath sees Lola kissing the strongman; this enrages him to insanity.