The Devil Is a Woman

1935

Comedy / Drama / Romance

3
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 78%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 71%
IMDb Rating 7.1 10 2407

Synopsis


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July 05, 2018 at 02:34 PM

Cast

Marlene Dietrich as Concha Perez
Cesar Romero as Antonio Galvan
Edward Everett Horton as Gov. Don Paquito 'Paquitito'
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
648.72 MB
988*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 19 min
P/S 3 / 14
1.25 GB
1472*1072
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 19 min
P/S 5 / 15

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MARIO GAUCI 8 / 10

THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN (Josef von Sternberg, 1935) ***1/2

This was the seventh and last (indeed, it had been announced as such from the outset by Paramount) of the celebrated cycle of cinematic collaborations between Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich and is said to have been both their own favorite – incidentally, with it, the two effectively came full-circle by making another film (as was their first joint venture, THE BLUE ANGEL {1930}) that revolves around a middle-aged man ruining himself for love of an ungrateful young woman. It was also the third adaptation of Pierre Louys' novel "The Woman And The Puppet" that had been much admired by the French Surrealist movement and, appropriately enough, was remade much later by Luis Bunuel in 1977 as THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE (which turned out to be his own swan-song).

Like that version, here we also have the long-suffering 'puppet' (Lionel Atwill in one of his best non-horror roles) narrating his misfortunes with the 'woman' – albeit to a best friend (a young Cesar Romero, replacing Joel McCrea who walked off the set after a single day's shooting!) in a Spanish cantina rather than to strangers on a train! Sill, like the earlier 1929 French version, the male lead (here renamed Pasquale) meets Conchita on a snow-derailed express where Dietrich (dressed as a nun!) takes on an unattractive gypsy female dancer and he intercedes to put an end to that struggle; incidentally, there had also been a nun passenger in the Baroncelli version but she was shown sleeping through the whole ordeal! Speaking of Atwill, he had previously acted opposite Dietrich in her first non-Sternberg Hollywood film, Rouben Mamoulian's THE SONG OF SONGS (1933) which I plan to catch up with presently; besides, Sternberg was summoned to give evidence at Atwill's 1942 trial (concerning an 'immoral' Christmas 1940 party) in which the actor infamously perjured himself and, consequently, was ostracized from Tinseltown's major league and forced to spend his last four years slumming it in third-rate (if not disagreeable) flicks!

This being an adaptation emanating from Hollywood's Golden Age, it is unsurprising to find the supporting roles filled by such amiable character actors as Edward Everett Horton and Alison Skipworth (in a bigger role – as Dietrich's mother – than her character gets in either of the other available versions) who are usually known for comedy and indeed supply some non-intrusive comic relief; equally par for the course is having Dietrich sing an amusingly suggestive number and don some of the kitschiest costumes – even if, ostensibly, she is playing a poor Spanish girl! The film is set during the carnival season and this grants Sternberg the opportunity to devise some remarkably atmospheric masks; indeed, the director must have known this was going to be his last film with Dietrich because he photographed the film himself (although the great Lucien Ballard gave uncredited support – or, rather, was learning the ropes – in his second of four consecutive films for Sternberg).

Having been made after the Hays Code came into force, the film fell victim to censorship (and even a ban threat from Spain!) but its impact still comes through; a notable change concerns the famous nude dance performed by Conchita and the humiliation endured by Pasquale at her house: celebrated novelist John Dos Passos, who adapted the Louys novel, still made Dietrich a tramp, while Sternberg displayed the power of the moment through camera-work, the décor and the elements (rain is pouring down throughout the scene! The film runs for just 80 minutes but feels somewhat longer – especially since the narrative goes on after the main story had ended in the other two versions I watched and includes exclusive incidents: a duel between the two men, a visit to a hospitalized Atwill, Conchita about to leave with Romero but deciding to stick with Atwill, etc.

I had watched THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN twice previously on Italian TV in an English-language print that was accompanied by Italian subtitles that were so large that they obscured a good part of the screen!; this new viewing came via Universal's 2-Disc Set "Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection" which features two double-features on a double-sided disc (the film under review sharing disc space with Rene Clair's THE FLAME OF NEW ORLEANS {1941}) while, bafflingly, Mitchell Leisen's GOLDEN EARRINGS (1947) has a disc all to itself! Funnily enough, this being yet another case of those maligned DVD-18 discs, I was unable to start the feature by pressing the "Play" button and had to do so from the chapters menu! Incidentally, the later Julien Duvivier/Brigitte Bardot remake was alternatively known as A WOMAN LIKE Satan (while is, alas, currently available only in unsubtitled form!) and there are at least two more unrelated but notable films known as THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN: Stephanie Rothman's THE VELVET VAMPIRE (1971; which I have never seen) and Damiano Damiani's star-studded nunsploitation effort, IL SORRISO DEL GRANDE TENTATORE (1974)! Ironically enough, Sternberg had intended calling his film "Capriccio Espagnole" (which would actually be retained by the Italian release prints!) but was vetoed by Paramount's current Head Of Production, Ernst Lubitsch!

Reviewed by Ron Oliver 10 / 10

Dietrich, A Devious & Dangerous Delight

A young Spanish radical in old Sevilla learns that THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN, when he falls hopelessly in love with a mysterious female.

Mesmerizing & hypnotic, this is a film which arouses all the senses. Dreamlike in its visuals & nightmarish of plot, it presents imagery so persuasive as to be practically palpable. Director Josef von Sternberg & writer John Dos Passos constructed a miniature madhouse for the mind, in which the viewer gladly finds himself consigned.

Fascinating, coy, deceptive, utterly alluring, Marlene Dietrich dominates the film as an icy-hearted harlot who strews her pathway with the broken bodies & wasted lives of the men she's betrayed. With heavily lidded eyes peering out of her disturbingly beautiful face, she is the very picture of sardonic seduction. Wisely, the film allows her a moment of amusement (for the viewer), letting her perfectly sum up her philosophy in the comic song ‘Three Sweethearts Have I.'

Dietrich's two leading men are both excellent. Lionel Atwill, sadly ignored today, once again exhibits the depth of his acting talent; Hollywood's propensity to place him in horror films often obscured his abilities. Here, he shows us a man fully aware of his complete degradation. Cesar Romero, in one of the finest roles of his early career, more than adequately carries on the tradition of the Latin Lover, but with a twist - here is a romantic hero who is not strong enough to escape from the web of the female spider.

Peevish & pompous, Edward Everett Horton is thoroughly amusing as a flustered Spanish bureaucrat.

Two wonderful English character actresses enliven the proceedings in small roles: Alison Skipworth as Dietrich's disreputable matriarch and Tempe Pigott as an old one-eyed harridan.

Movie mavens will spot Edwin Maxwell as the manager of the cigarette factory and Charles Sellon as a professional letter writer, both uncredited.

Von Sternberg created a masterwork of cinematic symbolism, with innuendo so rife it is incredible it passed the Production Code. In every way, the film is a worthy follow-up to his previous collaboration with Dietrich, the orgiastic SCARLETT EMPRESS (1934).

Reviewed by RanchoTuVu 10 / 10

very classy film

In terms of artistry, this probably ranks up there with the best of them. It has to be one of the most attention-grabbing films ever made with every scene crammed full of enticing details. From the opening carnaval parade that's buried under three feet of confetti, with everyone hiding behind unbelievably bizarre masks, the film revels in outstanding direction, sets, and costumes. Marlene Dietrich is simply on another level with her smart, beautiful, and sexy character, and the way they dressed her and the sets they put her in all combine for a totally and undeniably spellbinding experience. I guess if one digs a little deeper one would find a simple enough story and could claim the characters are mere caricatures for an American audience, but that would miss out on the sheer sophistication that can be appreciated up to today and beyond.

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