April 12 & April 14
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.
7.00pm A FOREIGN AFFAIR
Billy Wilder (1948) 116 mins – PG
Wilder, Richard L. Breen and Charles Brackett’s wicked and pointed satire about a congressional investigation into GI morals portrays bombed-out Berlin as a supremely corrupt black marketeers’ paradise. Although it stars Jean Arthur as a fish-out-of-water congresswoman negotiating the moral and cultural quagmire of the emerging Cold War, Dietrich steals the film as a slippery, Mephisto-like chanteuse. A knowing reversal of the star’s renowned anti-fascism, it includes a wonderful score by Friedrich Hollaender who also features as Dietrich’s accompanist.
Rubble romance: A Foreign Affair by Jeremy Carr
9:10pm I KISS YOUR HAND, MADAME
Robert Land (1929) 66 mins – Unclassified 15 +
In one of her final “silent films”, Dietrich stars as a divorcee in Paris luxuriating in her freedom and a circle of adoring men. This divine comedy is marked by elegant set design and the exquisite appeal of Parisian high life, beautifully captured by cinematographers Carl Drews and Gotthardt Wolf. While mostly silent, this was the first German film to use synchronised sound technology, giving a platform to established lead Harry Liedtke and the titular song. However, it is Dietrich who emerges as the clear star, displaying early signs of her extraordinary performative sensuality.
35mm print courtesy of Deutsche Kinemathek.