“An ill-advised remake of the minor classic The Blue Angel of 1930.”

(director: Edward Dmytryk; screenwriters: Nigel Balchin/Robert Liebmann & Karl Vollmöller from their 1930 screenplays/from a novel by Heinrich Mann; cinematographer: Leon Shamroy; editor: Jack W. Holmes; music: Hugo Friedhofer; cast: Curt Jurgens (Prof. Immanuel Rath), May Britt (Lola-Lola), Theodore Bikel (Kiepert), John Banner (Principal Harter), Fabrizio Mioni (Rolf), Ludwig Stossel (Professor Braun), Wolfe Barzell (Clown), Ina Anders (Gussie); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jack Cummings; Twentieth Century-Fox; 1959)

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An ill-advised remake of the minor classic The Blue Angel of 1930 that was directed by Josef von Sternberg and starred the indomitable Marlene Dietrich. That was the one and only version to see. It’s not that this update in lush technicolor is a bad film, which it isn’t, but that it’s an unnecessary film. The all too familiar story doesn’t have the same value as when first released and without the historical background of the Weimar Republic (the film is set in the West Germany of 1956), it’s rendered passe. The directing by Edward Dmytryk (“So Well Remembered”/”The Juggler”/”The Falcon Strikes Back”) was tolerable, and the acting by Curt Jurgens in the role played by Emil Jannings was even better than the hammy one by the silent screen star–who never made it in talkies. But where it runs up against the wall, is finding someone to play the Dietrich role. Inexperienced Swedish actress Mai Britt, with two minor Hollywood roles under her garters, is leggy and seems all right, but she doesn’t have the magic that Dietrich had and even though she made no wrong moves she was still no replacement for the ‘great one.’ In Dmytryk’s autobiography “It’s a Hell of a Life But Not a Bad Living,” he says “It was a film none of us had to be ashamed of, but the rule still holds–never remake a classic, even a minor one.” I couldn’t have said it better.

The film stayed close to the original script, which I outline in my review of the 1930 film. German actor Curt Jurgens gives a fine performance as the puritanical teacher, Prof. Immanuel Rath, in a boys’ high school, who falls for sexy cabaret singer Lola Lola (Mai Britt), and marries her to the ruin of his career. John Banner as the principal and Theodore Bikel as the impresario, also give solid performances in supporting roles. But, when all is said and done, I saw the 1930 version and felt no need to see this inferior one.