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Marlene: Marlene Dietrich, A Personal Biography Hardcover – March 29, 2011
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"It hardly seems possible that there could be room for yet another important biography on so iconic a star as Marlene Dietrich. . . . Yet Charlotte Chandler's Marlene: Marlene Dietrich, A Personal Biography proves invaluable. . . . Chandler has again demonstrated her unparalleled ability to get major figures of Hollywood's golden age to talk about their lives with unprecedented openness."
—Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Charlotte Chandler is the author of several biographies of actors and directors, including Groucho Marx, Federico Fellini, Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford, and Mae West, all of whom she interviewed extensively. She is a member of the board of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and lives in New York City.
Top customer reviews
As those of us who have older parents know, perceptions and perspectives tend to evolve a bit as age increases, and as the availability of those who might corroborate (or dispute) the stories decreases. Dietrich herself mentioned seeing images as a memory described by others, rather than her own memory. So I took many of the stories as entertainment with a grain of salt.
Chandler does provide a near-complete plot synopses of Dietrich movies, as well as a filmography listing key crew and cast. I was a little surprised that this information is included, in this day and age of IMDB, but then I noticed how much it helps fill out the book.
We are definitely left wanting more. Her sources for stories are not just Dietrich, but also contemporaries encountered: Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Fritz Lang, Joshua Sinclair and one of her Dietrich's grandsons, for example. Given when this interview occurred, it's not surprising there's nothing from Marlene's family in Germany (and her only daughter Maria wrote her own book). There's very little from Marlene's agents, casting directors, or directors either. Nothing from Germany unless Marlene herself describes it - and no pictures from her childhood. I particularly was disappointed that the photographs that Dietrich referred to as important to her, and that were minutely described by the author, were not duplicated in the book.
And no real data that you can hang your hat on either. There are no pictures of her husband or daughter, no date of daughter's birth, no cost or income estimates from her movies, no pictures of things she or her family owned or prized, not even actual dates of Dietrich's birth or other important events. The photos are largely studio stills. So it's a real stretch to call this a biography.
This is more like the hints of a life, than actual information about a life. It's a pleasant read, but when you're done, you feel like you sat next to someone at dinner who has gathered some interesting stories. It's not a lot of effort to sit there, so if that's what you're looking for, enjoy the meal.