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The 5 Roles That Defined Marlene Dietrich's Career

Image: The 5 Roles That Defined Marlene Dietrich's Career
Morocco, 1930. (imdb.com)

By    |   Friday, 08 May 2015 05:26 AM

Marlene Dietrich hit the ground running once she came to America after becoming an actress in her native Germany, landing many starring roles right away. In fact, one of her first roles, that of Mademoiselle Amy Jolly, netted the actress her only Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Dietrich had a number of roles that are identified most frequently with her. Here are five of them:

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1. Mademoiselle Amy Jolly, "Morocco" (1930)

One of her first talking picture roles, Dietrich stars with Gary Cooper and Adolphe Menjou in this complicated romantic drama. Dietrich's reputation for androgyny began as a result of her performance in this movie, in which she performs a cabaret number wearing top hat and tails and kisses another woman, according to a review on The New York Times website. Her performance wowed the critics and moviegoers alike, and led to a string of romantic drama roles.

2. Helen Faraday, "Blonde Venus" (1932)

"Blonde Venus" is a love story turned love triangle that takes place in both Germany and the U.S. Dietrich's character is a singer who falls in love with an American scientist, who ends up developing radium poisoning. A new mom, Dietrich's character resumes working as a singer to pay for her husband's treatment back in Germany. While he's away, she has an affair with another man, which leads to problems with her husband. Besides Dietrich, the cast include Herbert Marshall and Cary Grant.

3. Frenchy, "Destry Rides Again" (1939)

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Starring with James Stewart, Dietrich plays Frenchy, according to Turner Classic Movies, the girlfriend of a saloon owner who has the town sheriff killed and replaced by someone he controls so he can control the area's cattle ranchers. However, he finds himself facing off against a famous lawman, who Frenchy ends up falling in love with. The role in this Western marked a change of pace for Dietrich, helping to re-establish her as a leading lady after a few couple of films that failed to do well at the box office.

4. Christine Vole/Helm, "Witness for the Prosecution" (1957)

Based on an Agatha Christie short story, Dietrich played the key role in this Billy Wilder-directed movie that also starred Tyrone Power, Charles Laughton, and Elsa Lanchester. Her character, the wife of a husband accused of murdering an old woman so as to benefit from her will. There are numerous plot twists throughout the film as the wife ends up testifying as a witness against her husband while, at the same time, forging documents to free him. The ending, which involves Dietrich's character, has one of the most famous endings in film history, and Dietrich's performance is considered key to the movie's success.

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

Dietrich portrays the widow of a German general executed by Allied forces immediately after the end of World War II. Her character is befriended by the American head of the three-judge tribunal who is overseeing the trials of Nazi conspirators at the Nuremberg trials. The judge, portrayed by Spencer Tracy, wishes to find out why the German people allowed the atrocities committed by the Nazis to go on for so long. Dietrich received praise for her role, and even earned a David di Donatello award for her performance. Other major stars in the film include Richard Widmark, Burt Lancaster, and Judy Garland.

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Marlene Dietrich hit the ground running once she came to America after becoming an actress in her native Germany, landing many starring roles right away. In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Dietrich had a number of roles. Here are five.
marlene dietrich, roles, movies, actress, films
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2015-26-08
Friday, 08 May 2015 05:26 AM
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