Prisoner of Paradise

Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel (1930) is a classic of cinema, renowned for its atmospheric cinematography, tragic themes, and the introduction of Marlene Dietrich to international audiences shortly before she and Sternberg left Germany and emigrated to Hollywood. But less well known in this country is Kurt Gerron, the actor who played Kiepert, the rotund magician and manager of the film’s key setting, the Blue Angel theatre itself.

In fact, Gerron was one of the most popular character actors and directors in Germany at the time–he was immortalized by his singing performance of “Mack the Knife” in Bertolt Brecht’s …

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It’s amazing how many movies slip through the cracks, even for seasoned movie buffs like myself who actively scan the local exhibition circuit on a weekly basis. I learned long ago the most efficient way for me to keep track of what’s playing in town is to keep a screening calendar, and anytime I hear of something I want to see, I always jot it down. (This is as close to day-timing as my temperament allows.)

Yesterday afternoon, however, as I was walking out of a coffeehouse, I happened to glimpse a small card for the Celebrate Africa 2003 festival …

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