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Marlene Dietrich - Her Own Song

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Film goddess. Cabaret chanteuse. Tireless soldier. Immortal icon. Marlene Dietrich endures as one of the most seductive and glamorous personalities in cinematic history. But who was she really? In this fascinating, 'revealing glimpse behind the image (Los Angeles Times) narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis, director J. David Riva pays tribute to his world-renowned grandmother. On screen, she wasa legend. But that was only the beginning. She became the German-born all-American girl, entertaining U.S. troops on the front lines, doing whatever she could for her boys on the battlefield. Rare,never-before-seen footage and candid interviews are featured in this stirring portrait that will have you falling in love again with Marlene!

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Burt Bacharach, André G. Brunelin, Rosemary Clooney, Buck Dawson, Alfred Hens
  • Directors: David Riva
  • Writers: Karin Kearns
  • Producers: David Riva, Cooky Ziesche, Frank Hübner, Gerhard Schmidt, H.W. Pausch
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, French, German, Hebrew
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: December 3, 2002
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006L92Z
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,082 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Marlene Dietrich - Her Own Song" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Folantin HALL OF FAME on July 9, 2005
Format: DVD
The documentary "Marlene Dietrich: Her Own Song" is directed by grandson David Riva. About halfway into the film I realised I was watching some sort of "authorized/family" version of Dietrich's life. The film chooses to focus on certain parts of Dietrich's life while completely ignoring other substantial portions. The film concentrates on Dietrich's WWII activities, but it includes surprisingly little about her film career--many of her films are not even discussed. There's also very little here about Marlene's personal life--although her marriage to Rudolf Sieber is mentioned. Marlene's love affairs with three members of the Kennedy clan are also not mentioned--one brief clip flashes a very recognizable and young John Kennedy at the camera. The film does, however, chose to pursue the story of Dietrich's love affair with the French actor, Jean Gabin, but there's no mention of her affairs with other women.

The documentary includes information about Dietrich's early acting career, concert footage, and her screen test for "Blue Angel". Various people in the film industry relate their anecdotal memories of Dietrich--including Hildegard Neff, Burt Bacharach, Rosemary Clooney, daughter Maria Riva (the director's mother), and various biographers. There are some fascinating photographs of Marlene Dietrich's WWII involvement--the shows she gave to the troops, etc. The film discusses Dietrich's brave opposition to the Nazi party, Goebbel's attempts to get her back in the German film industry, and how she coped with being a German in wartime. Dietrich's films were eventually banned in her native Germany.

While it's extremely interesting to learn about Marlene's devotion to the troops, and how she suffered for being German, overall, the documentary is a disappointment.
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Format: DVD
This is a fascinating documentary about the great screen legend Marlene Dietrich, not the less because of the particular focus on her life it takes. Without much question, Dietrich was one of the more interesting and complex individuals to have a career in Hollywood. Her films are fascinating for the imagery and complex sexuality presented upon the screen, and her life was interesting for many of the same reasons. This documentary leaves large parts of Dietrich's life undiscussed in order to deal more completely with aspects normally neglected. For instance, there is surprisingly little devoted to her actual film career. Many of her greatest film roles are not mentioned at all, such as BLONDE VENUS, THE SCARLET EMPRESS, DESIRE, THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN, the camp classic RANCHO NOTORIOUS, or WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION. Furthermore, very little of her sex life is mentioned, nothing about her long list of male and female lovers (in fact, there is no reference to her bisexuality at all, or her relationship with many of the Kennedy men, except for a very quick and unremarked upon bit of home movie footage of a very young JFK). So, in a way, this is not a balanced documentary on Dietrich's life.
On the other hand, we do get a portrait of Dietrich that, in conjunction with the more commonly known side of her, that richly deepens the more common portrait of her. There are many extraordinary early photographs and film footage of the very young Marlene in Germany, a great deal of fascinating home movie footage, and many interviews with family members. In fact, the sections of the documentary dealing with her family relations is among the most interesting.
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Format: DVD
About this cultural icon Marlene Dietrich, we have already a great documentary film "Marlene" by Maximillian Schell. Now here is a question: do we need another? Apparently, the answer is yes, as far as "Marlene Dietrich -- Her Own Song" is concerned, for it is directed by her own grandson J. David Riva.
But don't expect the film to be about her as actress. As the title of the film suggest, "Marlene Dietrich: Her Own Song" uses its considerable time to describe her war-time activity. As you know, she travelled all around the world during the WW2, and sang her songs before the cheering soldiers, and the film shows how she did the work, even risking her own life. No wonder we associate her image with the song "Lili Marleen," (which is, incidentally, not her song at first -- it was first sung by Lala Anderson).
The film covers the aspect of Dietrich as actress, but the part is not what we can call in-depth study. In this film, her acting career means "The Blue Angel" "Morocco" and many others which are touched rather superficially. When Billy Wilder is mentioned, the film quoted is NOT "Witness for the Prosecution" but "A Foreign Affair." Strangely, the first one is never talked about, the decision no serious film critic would take.
The most memorable part of the new documentary is its materials which only the people close to Marlene Dietrich can obtain. The home video part (8 mm films) is fascinating, capturing the Marlene Dietrich enjoying herself in holiday (some shots in swimming suit), and incredibly, they are mostly in color (remember, it's around the 1930-40s). And the brief reunion conversation between Marlene (who left Germany) and her mother (who stayed in Berlin during the war) recorded by US military is very touching.
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