Josef von Sternberg

  • Josef von Sternberg & Arthur Rosson – Underworld (1927)

    Josef von Sternberg1921-1930Arthur RossonCrimeSilentUSA
    Underworld (1927)
    Underworld (1927)

    Boisterous gangster kingpin ‘Bull’ Weed rehabilitates the down-and-out ‘Rolls Royce’ Wensel, a former lawyer who has fallen into alcoholism. The two become confidants, with Rolls Royce’s intelligence aiding Weed’s schemes, but complications arise when Rolls Royce falls for Weed’s girlfriend ‘Feathers’ McCoy.

    Adding to Weed’s troubles are attempts by a rival gangster, ‘Buck’ Mulligan, to muscle in on his territory. Their antagonism climaxes with Weed killing Mulligan and he is imprisoned, awaiting a death sentence. Rolls Royce devises an escape plan, but he and Feathers face a dilemma, wondering if they should elope together and leave Bull Weed to his fate.Read More »

  • Josef von Sternberg – The Last Command (1928)

    Josef von Sternberg1921-1930DramaSilentUSA
    The Last Command (1928)
    The Last Command (1928)

    A former Imperial Russian general and cousin of the Czar ends up in Hollywood as an extra in a movie directed by a former revolutionary.Read More »

  • Josef von Sternberg – The Docks of New York (1928)

    Josef von Sternberg1921-1930CrimeSilentUSA
    The Docks of New York (1928)
    The Docks of New York (1928)

    The ship on which Bill Roberts is a stoker has just put into port, giving the crew one night ashore. The ship’s bad-tempered third engineer orders the stokers to clean up, while the engineer heads for a dockside bar, where he has a confrontation with the wife he had abandoned. Then, as Bill himself goes ashore, he sees a young woman attempt to drown herself. Bill dives in, saves her, and then, assisted by the engineer’s wife, sees that she is cared for. Bill and the rescued woman begin to enjoy one another’s company, but they must contend with the malice of the engineer, as well as a number of other complications.Read More »

  • Josef von Sternberg – Sergeant Madden (1939)

    1931-1940CrimeDramaJosef von SternbergUSA
    Sergeant Madden (1939)
    Sergeant Madden (1939)

    A highly respected Irish cop is pleased when his son follows him onto the force. Unfortunately, the son is more interested in rewards than in upholding the law. When he shoots a child caught stealing, the others frame him and he is sent to prison where his attitude becomes even worse than before.Read More »

  • Josef von Sternberg – Der Blaue Engel AKA The Blue Angel [English Version] (1930)

    1921-1930ClassicsDramaGermanyJosef von SternbergWeimar Republic cinema

    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 »

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

    1951-1960ClassicsDramaJapanJosef von Sternberg

    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)

    1921-1930DramaJosef von SternbergSilentUSA

    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)

    1941-1950DramaFilm NoirJosef von SternbergUSA

    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)

    1931-1940DramaJosef von SternbergRomanceUSA

    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 »

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