“I’m no good, you understand? No good at all.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
Dietrich’s unusual character — a “strong, selfless woman who is willing to sacrifice herself for others’ happiness (even if it means giving her body) and to face the consequences for her sins” — “sees no need to apologize or defend herself to Marshall for what she did on his behalf,” yet also doesn’t “expect him to understand or forgive her”.
She’s a highly complex woman, and yet a bit of a feminist cipher: we’re not sure why she falls in love with Marshall and comes with him to America, nor why she so easily commits infidelity while her husband may be on his deathbed. Ultimately, the storyline itself — including a “descent into hell” as Dietrich “winds up sleeping in some bizarre dives, including one place in which hens and chickens run free”:
— simply emerges as pure melodrama peppered by two highly memorable nightclub performances, one in which Dietrich dons a blonde frizzy wig as “Blonde Venus” while emerging out of a gorilla suit:
and a later scene in which she famously wears a white top hat and tails while ogling chorus girls.
It’s no wonder this film is a favorite with gay and camp-loving audiences!
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: