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Marlene Dietrich's Supporting Roles: 4 Times the Star Shined Without Being the Lead Actress

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By    |   Friday, 08 May 2015 04:45 AM

At the beginning of her career, about the time that the last silent pictures were being made, Marlene Dietrich became a star. During the 1930s alone, she appeared in more than a dozen films, always as the lead actress, including performances that received rave reviews, such as those in 1930's "Morocco," 1932's "Blonde Venus," and 1939's "Destry Rides Again."

However, as the 1940s and 1050s came along, Dietrich took on fewer roles and usually performed in a supporting capacity. Some of those performances, however, are among the best of her career. Here's a look at four of those performances:

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1. Erika Von Schlutow, "A Foreign Affair" (1948)

Starring alongside Jean Arthur and John Lund, Dietrich plays torch singer Erika Von Schlutow, who is reputed to have been the mistress of one of Adolf Hitler's top political allies. Following World War II, American congressional members and military official keep tabs on Von Schlutow, hoping she will lead them to other escaped Nazi hierarchy members who are yet unaccounted for. Dietrich received praise for her performance, and the film was nominated for a couple of Academy Awards, according to The New York Times.

2. Charlotte Inwood, "Stage Fright" (1950)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Jane Wyman, Michael Wilding, Richard Todd, and Dietrich, "Stage Fright" is a crime thriller about an actor on the run for killing his lover's husband, a crime he states he is being framed for. Hitchcock received top-notch performances from all the actors, and Dietrich played the treacherous woman who may have been the murderer quite well, says The New York Times review.

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3. Tanya, "Touch of Evil" (1958)

Another crime thriller, this time directed by and starring Orson Welles, "Touch of Evil" is the story of an innocent American couple killed by a car bomb in Mexico. Dietrich plays Tanya, who runs a brothel where some of the action of the film takes place. Other notables in the cast include Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Dennis Weaver, Mercedes McCambridge, Keenan Wynn, Joseph Cotton, and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

4. Mrs. Bertholt, "Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961)

Dietrich received high praise for her turn as Mrs. Bertholt, the widow of a German general in "Judgment at Nuremberg." The film, which covers the events surrounding the trial of Nazis accused of atrocities during World War II, featured an all-star cast, including Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Judy Garland, Maximilian Schell, Werner Klemperer, William Shatner, and Montgomery Clift.

Dietrich's character, whose husband had been executed by the allies, is befriended by the chief trial judge, who wishes to find out why the German people allowed such atrocities to occur. The film garnered 11 Academy Award nominations, winning two. For her performance, Dietrich earned the Italian David di Donatello award (Special David) for her performance.

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At the beginning of her career, about the time that the last silent pictures were being made, Marlene Dietrich became a star. During the 1930s alone, she appeared in more than a dozen films, always as the lead actress, including roles that received rave reviews.
marlene dietrich, roles, actress, movies, films
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