If I’m going to be completely honest about these sorts of things, I must admit that my first introduction to Marlene Dietrich–and naturally the beginning of my obsession–didn’t come from Dietrich and director Josef von Sternberg’s first film together, The Blue Angel. Hell, I can’t even claim to have come around when I saw her infamous same-sex kiss in von Sternberg’s Morocco, which forever boggles my mind that they were able to get Dietrich in a tuxedo kissing another woman past the censors in 1930, during an in-class screening of The Celluloid Closet. No no, I first swooned for Marlene Dietrich thanks to a Mercedes Benz, this Mercedes Benz commercial to be exact:
Sure, a car commercial using the Dietrich standard “Falling in Love Again” might not be the most conventional start down the path towards appreciating the fruitful collaborations between one of Classic Hollywood’s greatest directors and its grandest on-screen divas; and yes, seeing as I could only recall the last line of the song, it would be several more years before an intensive and ultimately fruitful Google search would lead me to even being able to attribute this song to Marlene Dietrich. That all said, I can’t help but feel some gratitude to this commercial for accidentally starting me on the journey.
Loving on Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich was all but inevitable (duh and duh-er), and my curious history with The Blue Angel (the film that first saw Marlene sing “Falling in Love Again,” or “Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt” for the purists) is merely another anecdote about the magnetic pull the great screen actresses of old have upon me, but no matter. Today’s Fabulous Image in Cinema, one of many examples to come of Josef von Sternberg’s inimitable style–all layers upon layers of gloriously cluttered mise-en-scène and smokey lighting–and his appreciation of the divine Ms. Dietrich, is dedicated Lee Garfinkel’s “Falling in Love” commercial, for allowing me to fall in love (for the first time, at least) with Marlene Dietrich.