Combustible Celluloid
Get the Poster
Own it:
Search for streaming:
NetflixHuluGoogle PlayGooglePlayCan I
With: Marlene Dietrich, Lionel Atwill, Cesar Romero, Edward Everett Horton, Alison Skipworth, Don Alvarado, Tempe Pigott, Francisco Moreno
Written by: John Dos Passos, S.K. Winston, based on a novel by Pierre Louys
Directed by: Josef von Sternberg
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 79
Date: 04/19/1935

The Devil Is a Woman (1935)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Female Trouble

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The novelist John Dos Passos co-wrote the screenplay for this, the last of the seven great Sternberg/Dietrich films. It's a fitting title if you subscribe to the idea that Sternberg loved Dietrich unrequitedly. She stars in one of her most ferocious, delightful performances as Concha, a maneater living in Spain. A young freedom fighter on the run from the law spies her during carnival and agrees to a secret meeting. (The carnival setting allows Sternberg to fill the frame with his trademark ornate decorations.) Before the meeting, Antonio (Cesar Romero) runs into an older pal, Captain Don Pasqual (Lionel Atwill), who warns of Concha's pathological deceit; in flashback he tells his own sorry story of his obsession with Concha. Everything leads to a duel between the two instantly smitten men. The Devil Is a Woman is probably the most free-flowing of the Sternberg/Dietrich cycle, with its festive mood -- all streamers and confetti and masks -- and sprinkles of humor. (The instantly recognizable comic actor Edward Everett Horton plays the governor.) Dietrich's fiery performance is irresistible, especially the way she stomps her feet and fires eye-daggers to get what she wants. I loved it. It's based on a novel by Pierre Louys, which, of course, Luis Bunuel later adapted very differently for That Obscure Object of Desire (1977).

Movies Unlimtied