Josef von Sternberg

Josef von Sternberg – The Saga of Anatahan [1958 version] (1953)

Quote:
In June 1944, twelve Japanese seaman are stranded on an abandoned-and-forgotten island called An-ta-han for seven years. The island’s only inhabitants are the overseer of the abandoned plantation and an attractive young Japanese woman. Discipline is represented by a former warrant officer but ends when he suffers a loss-of-face catastrophe. Soon, discipline and rationality are replaced by a struggle for power and the woman. Power is represented by a pair of pistols found in the wreckage of an American airplane, so important that five men pay for their lives in a bid for supremacy. Read More »

Josef von Sternberg – The Salvation Hunters (1925)

Synopsis
Often described as “the first American independent film”, von Sternberg’s The Salvation Hunters is an austere and obscurely naturalist drama about “humans who crawl near the floor.”

“It’s hard now to appreciate the bomb-shell that Sternberg’s first feature must have been in Hollywood at the time: its slow pace, its lyrical pessimism, and its strong emphasis on the psychological over the physical set it far apart from anything that the American cinema had produced” (Tony Rayns, Time Out Film Guide). Shot for less than five thousand dollars in the span of three weeks, the groundbreaking Salvation Hunters announced the emergence of a major new talent, even if audiences of the day didn’t quite know what to make of its grimy settings, glum tone, and overt symbolizing. Read More »

Josef von Sternberg – The Shanghai Gesture (1941)

A young woman, Poppy, out for excitement in Shanghai, enters a gambling house owned by “Mother” Gin Sling, a dragon-lady who worked herself up from poverty to buy the casino. Sir Guy Charteris, wealthy entrepreneur, has purchased a large area of Shanghai, forcing Gin Sling to vacate by the coming Chinese New Year. Under orders from Gin Sling, who has found out Poppy is Charteris’ daughter, the smarmy Doctor Omar leads Poppy deeper and deeper into an addiction to gambling and alcohol. Gin Sling, realizing that Charteris was her long-ago husband who she thinks abandoned her, plans her revenge by inviting Charteris to a Chinese New Year dinner party to expose his past indiscretions. Charteris, however, has a suprise of his own to spring on Gin Sling. Read More »

Josef von Sternberg – An American Tragedy (1931)

Synopsis:
Having just reached adulthood, Clyde Griffiths has always lamented his lot in life, he the only son of poor missionaries. He has gotten a peripheral view of society life, to which he aspires, in his work as a bellhop at an upscale hotel. If being truthful to himself, he would admit that he lacks moral strength, he often taking the easiest but perhaps not the most ethical path to protect himself. Forced to move from place to place out of circumstance, he ends up in Lycurgus, New York working at the Samuel Griffiths Collar and Shirt factory, Samuel Griffiths his paternal uncle. Not knowing his uncle or his family, Clyde only wants a chance to get ahead, not expecting anything else from his wealthy relations. After an apprenticeship, Clyde ends up as the foreman in the stamping department. Read More »

Josef von Sternberg & Jules Furthman – Jet Pilot (1957)

John Wayne and Janet Leigh star in this military romance. Anna, Russian MIG pilot, escapes the USSR and lands on a US Air Force base in Alaska. There she meets Colonel Shannon, and after he debriefs her, the two become romantically involved and move to Palm Springs. Trouble arises when the US authorities discover that Anna is not really a defector but a Soviet spy. Army honchos decide to turn the tables by letting Shannon follow her back home and do some of his own espionage. But once there, Soviet forces endanger Shannon’s life — and Anna has to choose between her country and the man she has come to love. Read More »

Josef von Sternberg – Shanghai Express (1932)

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Quote:
An intoxicating mix of adventure, romance, and pre-Code salaciousness, Shanghai Express marks the commercial peak of an iconic collaboration. Marlene Dietrich is at her wicked best as Shanghai Lily, a courtesan whose reputation brings a hint of scandal to a three-day train ride through war-torn China. On board, she is surrounded by a motley crew of foreigners and lowlifes, including a fellow fallen woman (Anna May Wong), an old flame (Clive Brook), and a rebel leader wanted by the authorities (Warner Oland). As tensions come to a boil, director Josef von Sternberg delivers one breathtaking image after another, enveloping his star in a decadent profusion of feathers, furs, and cigarette smoke. The result is a triumph of studio filmmaking and a testament to the mythic power of Hollywood glamour. Read More »

Josef von Sternberg – Der blaue Engel aka The Blue Angel (1930)

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Article: from ~ by James Steffen
Immanuel Rath is a stuffy, disciplinarian professor who is shocked to discover his students passing around a postcard of Lola-Lola, a singer at The Blue Angel cabaret. Hoping to catch his students there, Professor Rath visits the nightclub and witnesses Lola-Lola’s performance. Entranced by her dissolute charms, he gets drunk on champagne and spends the night with her. The ensuing scandal causes him to lose control of his students and he is terminated from his position. Returning to Lola, he agrees to marry her and joins the troupe. His humiliation at having to play a clown onstage is compounded by Lola’s attraction to the strongman Mazeppa. To make matters worse, the troupe returns to the professor’s hometown, forcing him to acknowledge how far he has fallen. Read More »