March 4 – March 18

March 4

6:30pm DISHONORED
Josef von Sternberg (1931) 91 mins – Unclassified 15 +

Based on the legendary exploits of Mata Hari, Sternberg’s extravagant re-imagining of his native Vienna during World War I is a delirious but grounded mixture of irreverent historicism and romantic melodrama. One of the director’s greatest works, it features a piercingly nonchalant performance by Dietrich as an alluring sex worker and spy who betrays her country for love. This brilliantly designed and costumed (by Travis Banton) espionage tale provides a lucid portrait of a woman forced to use her sexuality in a hostile patriarchal world. Co-stars Victor McLaglen.

CTEQ ANNOTATIONS:
Dishonoured by Tamara Tracz.


8:15pm DESIRE
Frank Borzage (1936) 95 mins – G

Borzage’s elegant, streamlined romantic comedy in the style of Lubitsch (who co-produced) translates the latter’s sophisticated worldliness into a characteristically soulful romanticism. Dietrich stars as the vivacious, cultured jewel thief who cons a naïve automotive engineer (Gary Cooper) into smuggling a necklace from France into Spain, only for love to blossom despite their moral differences. As in many of Dietrich’s greatest performances, costume, décor, gesture and the play of light take starring roles.

March 11

6:30pm ANGEL
Ernst Lubitsch (1937) 91 mins – Unclassified 15 +

Dietrich plays the disaffected wife of a British diplomat (Herbert Marshall) who flies to Paris for the night to visit the “salon” of a Russian duchess. There she meets and falls for an attractive stranger (Melvyn Douglas) who gives her the codename “Angel”. Regarded as a significant failure on release, it has emerged as one of Lubitsch and Dietrich’s most sophisticated, penetrating and underrated works. An extraordinarily elegant and incisive portrait of the entanglements of love and sexual attraction, it is also a fascinating document of old Europe teetering on the cusp of war.


8:15pm DESTRY RIDES AGAIN
George Marshall (1939) 97 mins – PG

Borrowing the title but little else from Max Brand’s novel, Marshall offers a comically subversive western with striking views on gun violence and the place of women in the genre, perhaps courtesy of one-time communist Gertrude Purcell sharing script duty. Dietrich plays a chanteuse caught between Brian Donlevy’s ruthless boss and a new sheriff – James Stewart in one of his most shrewdly guileless performances – who proves not quite as acquiescent as he’s supposed to be. Marlene’s memorable barroom fight with Una Merkel caused some consternation in its day.

OPENING NIGHTS: MARLENE DIETRICH

For our first screening of 2021, we are thrilled to welcome you back where we left off: the final program of our luminous Marlene Dietrich season. Prior to having to close in mid-March 2020, the first two weeks of this season saw record numbers attending the screenings and celebrating the work of one of cinema’s great icons.

Combining one of Dietrich’s most fascinating and imperious roles as a ‘survivor’ in post-war Berlin (A Foreign Affair) with her fascinating early performance in I Kiss Your Hand, Madame, this program exemplifies the Melbourne Cinémathèque’s mission to present celebrated and less well-known works of film history in both their original format and in new restorations.

Our opening night also ushers in our spotlight on the razor-sharp world of seminal writer-director Billy Wilder over the coming weeks. Beyond this, look out for more highlights from our 2020 calendar: seasons focused on actor Dirk Bogarde and Australian director Gillian Armstrong.

23 February
OPENING NIGHT 2022

2 March – 16 March
“THIS COCKEYED CARAVAN”: THE COMIC UNIVERSE OF PRESTON STURGES

23 March – 4 April
FEARLESS VULNERABILITY: THE FILMS OF JULIETTE BINOCHE

12 April – 27 April
WILDFLOWERS: DANCING, DESIRE AND FREEDOM IN THE FILMS OF GILLIAN ARMSTRONG

4 May – 18 May
MORE THAN NIGHT: THE FATAL VISION OF FRITZ LANG

25 May – 1 June
FACING MODERNITY: A TRIBUTE TO MONICA VITTI

8 June – 22 June
REACHING BEYOND THE FRAME: THE POETIC CINEMA OF ABBAS KIAROSTAMI

29 June – 13 July
HIROSHI SHIMIZU: FORGOTTEN MASTER

20 July – 3 August
MASTERPIECES OF UKRAINIAN CINEMA

24 August – 7 September
"LIFE’S PARADE AT YOUR FINGERTIPS": DOUGLAS SIRK

14 September – 28 September
OSCILLATING WILDLY: CÉLINE SCIAMMA’S INCLUSIVE CINEMA

5 October – 12 October
GALLOWS BACCHANALIAS, FRACTIOUS FAIRY-TALES AND THE RULE OF THREE: THE CINEMA OF JURAJ JAKUBISKO

19 October
AT HOME IN THE WORLD: CECIL HOLMES, ACTIVIST FILMMAKER

26 October – 2 November
QUEERING THE ARCHIVE: THE CINEMA OF BARBARA HAMMER

9 November – 23 November
THE BRINK OF LIFE: F. W. MURNAU, CINEMATIC VISIONARY

30 November
SHIFTING THE FOCUS: JOAN MICKLIN SILVER IN THE SEVENTIES

7 December – 21 December
GENRE NONCONFORMITY AND EAST SIDE STORIES: DECENTRING THE MUSICAL PART I