Blonde Venus unfortunately turned out to be the one and only collaboration of Marlene Dietrich and Cary Grant. Sad to say though, Grant was not the lead here, just the other man who comes between Marlene and husband Herbert Marshall. There's no real chemistry in this one between any of the principal players and the best scenes are with Marlene and little Dickie Moore playing her son with Marshall.
The best thing about Blonde Venus are Marlene's musical numbers and they're memorable because of the inimitable way she puts over a song. All Dietrich fans should treasure her Hot Voodoo number where Marlene has a gorilla suit on and does a sexy strip out of that costume and gives us a look at voodoo can do to us.
But when its not showing Dietrich's legs off and her husky singing, the film is the story of a woman in love with two men. Husband Herbert Marshall is a research scientist who contracts 'radium poisoning' and needs money to go to Europe for a cure. Dietrich gets the money by doing some entertaining in a seedy dive where she comes to the attention of wealthy playboy Cary Grant. From there the plot progresses to the inevitable Hollywood conclusion with a script that was written by Joseph Von Sternberg who directed the film as well.
Paramount was taking a shot in the dark here with radium poisoning gambit. The plain truth is they didn't know a whole lot about radioactivity then. The discoverer of radium Marie Curie did in fact die of cancer contracted from too much exposure to it. But one didn't just go somewhere for a miracle cure for that sort of thing.
Herbert Marshall was always playing the injured party it seems in a whole lot of his films. He's well remembered for being Bette Davis's husband in The Little Foxes, a much better film than Blonde Venus. I also remember him in When Ladies Meet where he was cheating on Greer Garson with Joan Crawford and he went through the film with an air of innocence that you would think he was the party offended. Marshall had these roles down pat, but he had more to him in his acting repertoire.
Even before The Code was put in place Paramount had a lot of trouble with the Hays Office in getting this one exhibited. Some changes were made that no doubt weakened the plot and the story. Marlene is basically in love with two guys at the same time and that was a no go back in the day.
Blonde Venus didn't do that well at the box office, it was quite a let down from her previous film Shanghai Express. After this one she and Joseph Von Sternberg were separated and she did her next film, Song of Songs with Rouben Mamoulian.
Blonde Venus is great Dietrich who's asked to carry a weak story.
American chemist Ned Faraday marries a German entertainer and starts a family. However, he becomes poisoned with Radium and needs an expensive treatment in Germany to have any chance at being cured. Wife Helen returns to night club work to attempt to raise the money and becomes popular as the Blonde Venus. In an effort to get enough money sooner, she prostitutes herself to millionaire Nick Townsend. While Ned is away in Europe, she continues with Nick but when Ned returns cured, he discovers her infidelity. Now Ned despises Helen but she grabs son Johnny and lives on the run, just one step ahead of the Missing Persons Bureau. When they do finally catch her, she loses her son to Ned. Once again she returns to entertaining, this time in Paris, and her fame once again brings her and Townsend together. Helen and Nick return to America engaged, but she is irresistibly drawn back to her son and Ned. In which life does she truly belong?
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July 05, 2018 at 05:26 AM