DIETRICH, Marlene

(1901–1992)
   Everything about Marlene Dietrich’s early life was shrouded in a mystery created by press agents and herself, including her age and her parentage. Early biographies list her birth name as Maria Magdelena Dietrich von Losch and have her being born in 1904, but she was actually born Maria Magdelena Dietrich in Germany in 1901. She developed a very successful film and singing career in Germany before coming to the United States and playing in many popular non-Westerns throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Dietrich’s first film after becoming a U.S. citizen was, fittingly, a Western—at the time, an American film genre. In Destry Rides Again (1939), opposite Jimmy Stewart, Dietrich played Frenchy, probably the most famous saloon girl in any Western. What made Dietrich’s Frenchy such a great character was the transference of the sultry Germanic Dietrich persona to the old West. In her first scene in the film, her back is turned as she is singing “Little Joe, the Wrangler” in her famous dark and husky voice. The soonto-be-no-more town sheriff is in the audience. She turns and faces the camera directly, which happens to be the perspective of Kent, her boss and friend in villainy. She winks, rolls her cigarette, and then looks alluringly at the luckless sheriff, now listening to his death song. Soon after the song, a naive Russian immigrant, Boris (Mischa Auer), pats her rear. She turns and slaps him, showing that she is no common dance hall girl. He worships her thereafter. Later in the film, Frenchy sings “You’ve Got That Look (That Leaves Me Weak) ” in as sultry a manner as anything seen in cinema Westerns. She wears a feather boa, which she uses to excite the saloon patrons. The camera cuts back and forth between Frenchy and Boris, who rolls his eyes backward, embraces a wooden column next to him, and kisses the column as if it is Frenchy. Another cowboy, turned on by Frenchy’s performance, fires off his pistols in the air to symbolize his arousal.
   Deputy Sheriff Destry (Stewart) sees through her completely but manages lots of good clean 1930s-style sexual byplay. Marlene Dietrich’s Frenchy set the standard for future saloon girl characters and was so famous that Madeline Kahn parodied Dietrich in the 1974 Western spoof Blazing Saddles (directed by Mel Brooks). Well into her mature years, Dietrich starred in one other Western, Fritz Lang’s Rancho Notorious (1952), a revenge Western in which she attempts the Frenchy act one last time.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dietrich, Marlene — orig. Maria Magdalene Dietrich born Dec. 27, 1901, Berlin, Ger. died May 6, 1992, Paris, France German U.S. film actress and singer. After joining Max Reinhardt s theatre company in 1922, she appeared in German films and became an international… …   Universalium

  • Dietrich, Marlene — (1901 1992)    actress; best known as the character Lola Lola in Josef von Sternberg s The Blue Angel. Maria Magdalena Dietrich was born into a middle class Berlin* family in which her natural father, who died during her childhood, was a police… …   Historical dictionary of Weimar Republik

  • Dietrich, Marlene — (1901 1992)    The German born actress and singer was born Maria Magdalena Dietrich in Berlin, Germany, but she adopted Marlene as her stage name. She made a number of successful films in Germany before moving to Hollywood in 1930. There she made …   Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era

  • Dietrich,Marlene — Die·trich (dēʹtrĭk, trĭKH), Marlene. 1901 1992. German born American actress and singer whose first internationally famous role was the sultry voiced temptress in The Blue Angel (1930). * * * …   Universalium

  • Dietrich, Marlene — ► (1902 92) Seudónimo de Marie Magdalene von Losch, actriz y cantante estadounidense. Películas: El ángel azul (1930), El expreso de Shanghai (1932), Sed de mal (1958), entre otras. * * * orig. Maria Magdalene Dietrich (27 dic. 1901, Berlín,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Dietrich, Marlene —  (1904–1992) German born actress and singer; born Maria Magdalene von Losch …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Dietrich, Marlene — pseud. di Losch, Marie Magdalene von …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Marlene Dietrich — Marlene Dietrich, 1933 Marlene Dietrich (* 27. Dezember 1901 in Schöneberg; † 6. Mai 1992 in Paris; eigentlich Marie Magdalene Dietrich)[1] war eine gebürtige deutsche …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Marlene Dietrich — Dietrich in 1951. Born Marie Magdalene Dietrich 27 December 1901(1901 12 27) Schöneberg …   Wikipedia

  • Marlene Dietrich discography — Marlene Dietrich Marlene Dietrich s recording career spanned sixty years, from 1928 until 1988 . She introduced the songs Falling in Love Again (Can t Help It) (from the film The Blue Angel) and The Boys in the Backroom (from Destry Rides Again ) …   Wikipedia

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