The Germans do have a thing for descent. Maybe it's because they have a thing for moral standing, the sort of pompousness that had Alan Hansen remark that Michael Ballack played football for Chelsea like he was smoking a cigar. So when you go downhill you really go downhill, like in Hans Fallada's tale 'The Drinker', it's excruciating because all the time you think it can't get worse and there's a glimmer of hope and then no there isn't and it does get worse...and worse. The Blue Angel (1930) takes no prisoners whatsoever, if you enjoyed the wobbly descent of the drinker this cuts out the hopeful bits. There is one moment of cooing in the marriage ceremony, but you know even that's a sign of doom.
Of course it is the descent of a bearded middle aged professor who falls in love with a stripper, so of course it's especially uncomfortable for people like me, but it's about a lot more than that. It should be required viewing for Striptease Culture 101.
The professors world is stuffy and pompous, full of rules and regulations, while the world of the Blue Angel is irredeemable, but real. Dietrich is the epitome of sanguine, she's not pretentious. Sure she is sexy and she knows it, but she does not ladle it on, she's even a tiny bit kind. As the professor loses his standing he loses his job, he becomes, immediately, without discussion of any kind, the lowest form in the troop, the clown. Oh god, the clown, god how I hate clowns! The fact that my friend Scott has drawn a lot of clowns and me as a clown and some of them are on our walls as reminders of just how awful clowns are, made me realise I couldn't watch the last ten minutes and had to go to bed.
I asked Julie what happens: the poor professor/clown crawls back to his old lectern and dies.
Thanks Mr von Sternberg, thanks.