The Blue Angel (1930) and Cyprus Is an Island (1946)

The Blue Angel

Toronto Film Study Group presented The Blue Angel (1930) on Monday, October 25, 1949 in a double bill with Cyrus Is an Island (1946) as part of the Season 1 Main Series, Programme 1 at the Royal Ontario Museum Theatre.

The Blue Angel(Germany 1930)

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Principals: Emil Jannings and Marlene Dietrich
Design: Otto Hunte
Supervision: Erich Pommer
Camera: Gunther Rittau and Hans Scheenberger
Script: Robert Liebmann and Karl Zuckmayer

Based on the novel “Professor Unrat” by Heinrich Mann.

The Blue Angel is one of the earliest European sound films, antedating Fritz Lang’s M by two years. This print is from the British Film Institute archive. Where there is dialogue at all, it is in English, spoken by the cast and not dubbed. These first European sound films all pointed the way to an intelligent use of sound. This particular print was apparently made for export. It has a different ending to the German ” version.”

Jannings plays the staid, bachelor professor, who attempting to save his adolescent pupils from the dangers of a vaudeville singer, is seduced by her charms himself. Dismissed from the school for his irregular behaviour, he joins the troupe and becomes a clown – a wonderfully significant clown. The story rises to a pitch and ends on a frantically ironic note. In fact, the whole film is full of irony and ironic symbolism, as opposed to grotesqueness and morbidness, as has been said of the film. With The Last Command and The Salvation Hunters it is the best of Von Sternberg’s great talent — which later went to seed.

Cyprus is an Island (Great Britain 1946)

Produced for the British Information Services by Greenpark Productions. It describes in visual terms, the conflict between the goatherds and those who are trying to make Cyprus agriculturally self-sufficient (goats are more of a menace than usual when grazed in herds, is the idea). They eat every growing, green thing in sight. This conflict is particularized and dramatized. The film has a good script, is well edited and well photographed. Timing and pacing are excellent and the mood clearly defined and sustained. The Cyprians recruited to play parts are well directed. The commentary does not suffocate with refinement or rant. Cyprus is an Island is a good example of the better British documentary.

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