Josef von Sternberg
|Josef von Sternberg|
29 May 1894
22 December 1969 (aged 75)|
Riza Royce (1926–1930; divorced)|
Jean Annette McBride (1945–1947; divorced)
Meri Otis Wilner (1948–1969; his death; 1 child)
|Parent(s)||Moses (Morris) Sternberg|
Josef von Sternberg (born Jonas Sternberg, 29 May 1894 – 22 December 1969) was an Austrian-American filmmaker whose career successfully spanned the transition from the silent to the sound era, during which he worked with most of the major Hollywood studios. He is best known for his film collaboration with actress Marlene Dietrich in the 1930s, including the highly regarded Paramount/UFA production, The Blue Angel (1930).
Sternberg’s finest works are noteworthy for their striking pictorial compositions, dense décor, chiaroscuro illumination and relentless camera motion, endowing the scenes with emotional intensity. He is also credited with initiating the gangster film genre with his silent era movie Underworld (1927). Sternberg’s themes typically offer the spectacle of an individual’s desperate struggle to maintain their personal integrity as they sacrifice themselves for lust or love.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Assistant Director: 1919-1923
- 3 The Salvation Hunters and United Artists: 1924
- 4 Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer: 1925
- 5 Chaplin and A Woman of the Sea: 1926
- 6 Paramount: 1927-1935
- 7 Filmography
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 References
- 10 Sources
- 11 External links
Early life and education
Josef von Sternberg was born Jonas Sternberg to an impoverished Orthodox Jewish family in Vienna, at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. When Sternberg was three years old, his father Moses Sternberg, a former soldier in the army of Austria-Hungary, moved to the United States to seek work. His mother, Serafin née Singer, and her children joined Moses in American in 1901 when the young Sternberg was seven. Jonas attended public school there until the entire family returned to Vienna three years later. Throughout his life, Sternberg would carry vivid memories of Vienna and nostalgia for some of "his happiest childhood moments."
The elder Sternberg insisted upon a rigorous study of the Hebrew language, limiting his son to religious studies on top of his regular schoolwork.  Biographer Peter Baxter, citing Sternberg’s memoirs, reports that “his parents relationship was far from happy: his father was a domestic tyrant and his mother eventually fled her home in order to escape his abuse." Sternberg’s private life, including his “childhood traumas” would inform the “unique subject matter of his films.”
In 1908, when Jonas was fourteen, he returned alone to New York City to settle in the United States. After a year, he stopped attending Jamaica High School and began working in various occupations, including millinery apprentice, door-to-door trinket salesman and stock clerk at a lace factory. At the Fifth Avenue lace outlet, he became familiar with the ornate textiles with which he would adorn his female stars and embellish his Mise-en-scène.
In 1911, when he turned seventeen, the now “Josef” Sternberg, became employed at the World Film Company in Fort Lee, New Jersey. There, he “cleaned, patched and coated motion picture stock” – and served evenings as movie theatre projectionist. In 1914, when the company was purchased by actor and film producer William A. Brady, Sternberg rose to chief assistant, responsible for “writing [inter]titles and editing films to cover lapses in continuity” – for which he received his first official film credits.
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, he joined the US Army and was assigned to the Signal Corps headquartered in Washington, D.C., where he photographed training films for recruits.
Shortly after the war, Sternberg left Brady’s Fort Lee operation and embarked on a peripatetic existence in America and Europe offering his skills “as cutter, editor, writer and assistant director” to various film studios.
Assistant Director: 1919-1923
The nobiliary particle “von” – used to indicate a family descending from nobility – was added gratuitously to Sternberg’s name on the grounds that it served to achieve an orderly configuration of personnel credits.. The producer and matinee idol Elliott Dexter suggested the augmentation when Sternberg was assistant director and screenwriter for Roy W. Neill’s By Devine Right (1923) on the grounds that it would “enhance his screen credit” and add “artistic prestige” to the film.
Director Erich von Stroheim, also from a poor Viennese family and Sternberg’s beau idéal, had attached a faux “von” to his professional name. Although Sternberg emphatically denied any foreknowledge of Dexter’s largesse, film historian John Baxter maintains that "knowing his respect for Stroheim it is hard to believe that [Sternberg] had no part in the ennobling.” 
Sternberg would ruefully comment that the elitist “von” drew criticism during the 1930s, when Sternberg’s “lack of realist social themes” would be interpreted as anti-egalitarian. 
Sternberg served his apprenticeship years with early silent filmmakers, including Hugo Ballin, Wallace Worsley, Lawrence C. Windom and Roy William Neill. In 1919, Sternberg worked with director Emile Chautard’s on The Mystery of the Yellow Room, for which he received official screen credit as assistant director. Sternberg honored Chautard in his memoirs, recalling the French director’s invaluable lessons on photography, film composition and the importance of establishing "the spatial integrity of his images." This advice led Sternberg to develop his distinctive "framing" of each shot to become “the screen’s greatest master of pictorial composition.” 
Sternberg’s 1919 debut in filmmaking, though in a subordinate capacity, coincided with the filming and/or release of D. W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms, Charlie Chaplin’s Sunnyside, Erich von Stroheim’s The Devil's Pass Key, Cecil B. DeMille’s Male and Female, Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Victor Sjöström’s Karin Daughter of Ingmar and Abel Gance’s J’accuse.
Sternberg travelled widely in Europe between 1922 and 1924, where he participated in making a number of movies for the short-lived Alliance Film Corporation in London, including The Bohemian Girl (1922). When he returned to California in 1924, he began work on his first Hollywood movie as assistant to director Roy William Neill's Vanity's Price, produced by Film Booking Office (FBO).
The Salvation Hunters and United Artists: 1924
The 30-year-old Sternberg made his debut as a director with The Salvation Hunters, an independent picture produced with actor George K. Arthur. The picture, filmed on the miniscule budget of $4800 – “a miracle of organization” – made a tremendous impression on actor-director-producer Charles Chaplin and co-producer Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. of United Artists (UA).
Influenced by the works of Erich von Stroheim, director of Greed (1924), the movie was lauded by cineastes for its “unglamorous realism”, depicting three young drifters who struggle to survive in a dystopian landscape.
Despite its considerable defects, due in part to Sternberg’s budgetary constraints, the picture was purchased by United Artists for $20,000 and given a brief distribution, but fared poorly at the box-office.
On the strength this picture alone, actor-producer Mary Pickford of UA engaged Sternberg to write and direct her next feature. His screenplay, entitled Backwash, was deemed to be too experimental in concept and technique, and the Pickford-Sternberg project was cancelled.
Sternberg’s The Salvation Hunters is “his most explicitly personal work”, with the exception of his final picture Anahatan (1953). His distinctive style is already in evidence, both visually and dramatically: veils and nets filter our view of the actors, and “psychological conflict rather than physical action” has the effect of obscuring the motivations of his characters.
Released from his contract with United Artists, and regarded as a rising talent in Hollywood, Sternberg was sought after by the major movie studios. Signing an eight-film agreement with Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer in 1925, Sternberg entered into “the increasingly rigid studio system” at M-G-M, where films were subordinated to market considerations and judged on profitability. Sternberg would clash with Metro studio executives over his approach to filmmaking: the picture as a form of art and the director a visual poet. These conflicting priorities would “doom” their association, as Sternberg “had little interest in making a commercial success.”
Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer first assigned Sternberg to adapt author Alden Brooks’ novel Escape, retitled The Exquisite Sinner. A romance set in post-World War I Brittany, the movie was withheld from release for failing to clearly set forth its narrative, though M-G-M acknowledged its photographic beauty and artistic merit.
Sternberg was next tasked to direct film stars Mae Murray and Roy D'Arcy in The Masked Bride, both of whom had played in Stroheim’s highly acclaimed The Merry Widow (1925). Exasperated with his lack of control over any aspect of the production, Sternberg quit in two weeks – his final gesture turning the camera to the ceiling before walking off the set. Metro arranged a cancellation of his contract in August of 1925. Frenchman Robert Florey, Sternberg’s assistant director, reported that Sternberg’s Stroheim-like histrionics emerged on the M-G-M sets to the consternation of production management. 
Chaplin and A Woman of the Sea: 1926
When Sternberg returned from a sojourn in Europe following his disappointing tenure at M-G-M in 1925, Charles Chaplin approached him to direct a comeback vehicle for his erstwhile leading lady, Edna Purviance. Purviance had appeared in dozens of Chaplin’s films, but had not had a serious leading role since the much admired picture A Woman of Paris (1923) This would mark the “only occasion that Chaplin entrusted another director with one of his own productions.” 
Chaplin had detected a Dickensian quality in Sternberg’s representation of his characters and mise-en-scène in The Salvation Hunters and wished to see the young director expand on these elements in the film. The original title, The Sea Gull, was retitled A Woman of the Sea to invoke the earlier A Woman of Paris. 
Chaplin was dismayed by the film Sternberg created with cameraman Paul Ivano, a “highly visual, almost Expressionistic" work, completely lacking in the humanism that he had anticipated.  Though Sternberg reshot a number of scenes, Chaplin declined to distribute the picture, and the prints were ultimately destroyed. 
The failure of Sternberg’s promising collaboration with Chaplin was a temporary blow to his reputation. In June 1926 he travelled to Berlin at the request of impresario Max Reinhardt to explore an offer to manage stage productions, but discovered he was not suited to the task.  Sternberg went to England, where he rendezvoused with Riza Royce, a New York actress originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania who had served as an assistant on the ill-fated A Woman of the Sea. They wedded on 6 July, 1927. Sternberg and Royce would have a tempestuous marriage that would span three years. In August of 1928, Riza von Sternberg obtained a divorce from her spouse that included charges of mental and physical abuse, in which Sternberg “seems to have acted a husband’s role on the model his [abusive] father provided.” The pair remarried in 1928, but the relationship continued to deteriorate, ending in a second and final divorce in 1931.
Silent Era: 1927-1929
In the summer of 1927, Paramount producer B. P. Schulberg offered, and Sternberg accepted, a position as “technical advisor for lighting and photography.”  Sternberg was tasked with salvaging director Frank Lloyd’s Children of Divorce, a movie that the studio executives had written off as “worthless”. Working "three [consecutive] days of 20-hour shifts" Sternberg reconceived and reshot half the picture and presented Paramount with “a critical and box-office success.” Impressed, Paramount arranged for Sternberg to film a major production, based on journalist Ben Hecht’s story about Chicago gangsters: Underworld.
This film is generally regarded as the first “gangster” movie, to the extent that it portrayed a criminal protagonist as tragic hero destined by fate to meet a violent death. In Sternberg's hands the "journalistic observations" provided by Hecht's narrative are abandoned and substituted with a fantasy gangsterland that sprang "solely from Sternberg's imagination. Underworld, "clinical and Spartan" in its cinematic technique made a significant impression on French filmmakers.
With Underworld, Sternberg demonstrated his “commercial potential” to the studios, delivering an enormous box-office hit. An Academy Award winner (Best Original Story), Paramount provided Sternberg with lavish budgets for his next four films. Some historians point to Underworld as the first of Sternberg’s accommodations to the studio profit system, whereas others note that the film marks the emergence of Sternberg’s distinctive personal style.
The movies Sternberg created for Paramount over the next two years – The Last Command (1928), The Drag Net (1928), The Docks of New York (1929) and The Case of Lena Smith (1929), would mark “the most prolific period” of his career and establish him as one of the greatest filmmakers of the late silent era. Contrary to Paramount’s expectations, none were very profitable in distribution.
The Last Command earned high praise among critics and added luster to Paramount’s prestige.The film had the added benefit of forging collaborative relations between the director and its Academy Award winning star Emil Jannings and producer Erich Pommer, both temporarily on loan from Paramount’s sister studio, UFA in Germany.  Before embarking on his next feature, Sternberg, at Paramount's behest, agreed to "cut down to manageable length" fellow director Erich von Stroheim’s The Wedding March. Sternberg’s willingness to accept the assignment had the unhappy side effect of “destroying” his relationship with von Stroheim.
The Drag Net, a lost film, is believed to be a sequel to Underworld. The Docks of New York "today the most popular of Sternberg's silent films" combines both spectacle and psychology in a romance set in sordid and brutal environs.
Of Sternberg’s eight films he completed in the silent era, only four are known to exist today in any archive. That Sternberg’s output suffers from "lost film syndrome" makes a comprehensive evaluation of his silent oeuvre impossible.
A particularly unfortunate loss is that of The Case of Lena Smith, his last silent movie, and described as “Sternberg’s most successful attempt at combining a story of meaning and purpose with his very original style.” The film fell victim to the emerging talkie enthusiasm and was largely ignored by American critics, but in Europe "its reputation is still high after decades of obscurity." The Austrian Film Museum has assembled archival material to reconstruct the film, including a 5-minute print fragment discovered in 2005.
Sound Era: 1929-1935
Paramount moved quickly to adapt Sternberg’s next feature, Thunderbolt, for sound release in 1929. An underworld melodrama-musical, its soundtrack employs innovative asynchronous and contrapuntal aural effects, often for comic relief. Thunderbolt garnered leading man George Bancroft a Best Actor Award nomination, but Sternberg’s future with Paramount was precarious due to the long string of commercial disappointments.
Magnum Opus: The Blue Angel
Sternberg was summoned to Berlin by Paramount’s sister studio, UFA in 1929 to direct Emil Jannings in his first sound production, The Blue Angel. It would be “the most important film” of Sternberg’s career.  Sternberg cast the then little-known Marlene Dietrich as Lola Lola, the female lead and nemesis of Jannings character Professor Immanuel Rath, whose passion for the young cabaret singer would reduce him to a "spectacular cuckold."  Dietrich became an international star overnight and followed Sternberg to Hollywood to produce six more film collaborations at Paramount. Film historian Andrew Sarris contends that The Blue Angel is Sternberg’s “most brutal and least humorous” work of his oeuvre” and yet the one film that the director’s “most severe detractors will concede is beyond reproach or ridicule...The Blue Angel stands up today as Sternberg’s most efficient achievement...” 
Sternberg’s romantic infatuation with his new star created difficulties on and off the set. Jannings strenuously objected to Sternberg’s lavish attention to Dietrich’s performance, at the elder actor’s expense. Indeed, the "tragic irony of The Blue Angel" was "paralleled in real life by the rise of Dietrich and the fall of Jannings."
Riza von Sternberg, who accompanied her spouse to Berlin, discerned that director and star were sexually involved. When Dietrich arrived in the United States in April of 1930, Mrs. von Sternberg personally presented her with $100, 000 libel lawsuits for public remarks made by the star that her marriage was failing, and a $500,000 suit for alienation of [Josef] Sternberg’s affections. The Sternberg-Dietrich-Royce scandal was “in and out of the papers”, but public awareness of the "ugly scenes" was largely suppressed by Paramount executives. On June 5, 1931 the divorce was finalized providing $25,000 cash settlement to Mrs. Sternberg and a 5-year annual alimony of $1200. In March of 1932, the now divorced Riza Royce dropped libel and alienation charges against Dietrich.
Sternberg and Dietrich later continued to collaborate in the United States on six notable films: Morocco (1930), Dishonored (1931), Shanghai Express (1932), Blonde Venus (1932), The Scarlet Empress (1934), and The Devil is a Woman (1935). The Scarlet Empress is particularly celebrated for its atmospheric and suggestively demonic production design. One of the more important performances in Cooper's early career was his portrayal of a sullen legionnaire in Josef von Sternberg's 1930 film Morocco with Marlene Dietrich in her introduction to American audiences. During production, von Sternberg focused his energies on Dietrich and treated Cooper dismissively. Tensions came to a head after von Sternberg yelled directions at Cooper in German. The 6-foot-3-inch (191 cm) actor approached the 5-foot-4-inch (163 cm) director, physically picked him up by the collar and said, "If you expect to work in this country you'd better get on to the language we use here." Despite the tensions on the set, Cooper produced "one of his best performances", according to Thornton Delehanty of the New York Evening Post. He also contributed to the glamorous image of stars such as Dietrich, Carole Lombard, Rita Hayworth and Dolores del Rio, helping to create and define this concept in Hollywood. Grace Moore starred in 1936 as Empress Elisabeth of Austria in his production The King Steps Out.
In 1932, Sternberg commissioned the architect Richard Neutra to design the 'Von Sternberg House', an avant-garde American modernist residence. Ayn Rand later bought it and lived in it. The house was eventually demolished in 1972 when a later owner decided to redevelop the lot.
Macao (1952) was Sternberg's last Hollywood film, and the next year his Anatahan (1953) was made in Japan. It is the story of a group of Japanese soldiers who refused to believe that the Second World War had ended. Sternberg wrote, narrated, photographed, and also directed the film. His last work, it had limited release and was a financial failure.
Between 1959 and 1963, Sternberg taught a course on film aesthetics at the University of California at Los Angeles, based on his own works. His students included Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek, who went on to form the rock group The Doors. The group recorded songs referring to Sternberg. Manzarek describes Sternberg as "perhaps the greatest single influence on The Doors."
Sternberg wrote an autobiography, Fun in a Chinese Laundry (1965); the title was drawn from an early film comedy. He died in 1969 from a heart attack, aged 75. He was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, California near several film studios.
von Sternberg's contemporaries comment on the director:
Scottish-American screenwriter. Aeneas MacKenzie: "To understand what Sternberg is attempting to do, one must first appreciate that he imposes the limitations of the visual upon himself: he refuses to obtain any effect whatsoever save by means of pictorial composition. That is the fundamental distinction between von Sternberg and all other directors. Stage acting he declines, cinema in its conventional aspect he despises as mere mechanics, and dialogue he employs primarily for its value as integrated sound. The screen is his medium – not the camera. His purpose is to the emotional significance of a subject by a series of magnificent canvasses".
American film actress and dancer Louise Brooks: "Sternberg, with his detachment, could look at a woman and say ‘this is beautiful about her and I’ll leave it…and this is ugly about her and I’ll eliminate it'. Take away the bad and leave what is beautiful so she’s complete…He was the greatest director of women that ever, ever was".
American actor Edward Arnold: "It may be true that [von Sternberg] is a destroyer of whatever egotism an actor possesses, and that he crushes the individuality of those he directs in pictures…the first days filming Crime and Punishment …I had the feeling through the whole production of the picture that he wanted to break me down...to destroy my individuality…Probably anyone working with Sternberg over a long period would become used to his idiosyncrasies,. Whatever his methods, he got the best he could out of his actors…I consider that part of the Inspector General one the best I have ever done in the talkies.
American film critic Andrew Sarris: "Sternberg resisted the heresy of acting autonomy to the very end of his career, and that resistance is very likely one of the reasons his career was foreshortened".
- The Salvation Hunters (1925)
- The Exquisite Sinner (1926, lost)
- A Woman of the Sea (1926, also known as The Sea Gull or Sea Gulls or The Woman who loved once, lost)
- Underworld (1927)
- The Last Command (1928)
- The Dragnet (1928, lost)
- The Docks of New York (1928)
- The Case of Lena Smith (1929, lost)
- Thunderbolt (1929)
- The Blue Angel (1930)
- Morocco (1930)
- Dishonored (1931)
- An American Tragedy (1931)
- Shanghai Express (1932)
- Blonde Venus (1932)
- The Scarlet Empress (1934)
- The Devil is a Woman (1935)
- Crime and Punishment (1935)
- The King Steps Out (1936)
- Sergeant Madden (1939)
- The Shanghai Gesture (1941)
- The Town (1943, short film)
- Macao (1952)
- Anatahan (1952–8, also known as The Saga of Anatahan)
- The Masked Bride (1925, directed with Christy Cabanne, uncredited)
- It (1927, directed with Clarence G. Badger, uncredited)
- Children of Divorce (1927, directed with Frank Lloyd, uncredited)
- Street of Sin (1928, directed with Mauritz Stiller, uncredited)
- I, Claudius (1937, unfinished)
- The Great Waltz (1938, directed with Julien Duvivier, uncredited)
- I Take This Woman (1940, directed with W.S. Van Dyke, uncredited)
- Duel in the Sun (1946, directed with King Vidor, uncredited)
- Jet Pilot (1957; Sternberg only directed a small portion of this film, in 1950, while still under contract to Howard Hughes)
- Sternberg, Josef von: Fun in a Chinese Laundry. London: Secker and Warburg, 1965.
- Sarris, 1998. P. 219
- Sarris, 1966. P. 8: “The colorful costumes, the dazzling decors, the marble-pillared palaces...” and p. 6: “His purpose is to reveal the emotional significance of a subject by a series of magnificent canvasses.” And Sternberg “relies on long, elaborate shots, each of which is developed internally – by camera movement and dramatic lighting [producing] the effect of emotional percussion.” (Sarris quoting Aeneas MacKenzie)
- Weinberg, 1967. P. 34: “...the genre it so eloquently established started a vogue that lasted an entire generation until the outbreak of the Second World War...”
- Sarris, 1966. P. 15: “...the first in a tradition” of the [gangster] genre.
- Sarris, 1966. P. 54: Themes involve “the spectacle of man’s dignity and honor crumbling before the assault of desire” bound up with adoration of a woman “which obliterate reason, honor, [and] dignity” and p. 34: the “dilemmas of desire”
- Sarris, 1998. p. 499
- Baxter, 1971. P. 8: “...a poor Orthodox Jewish family...” and p. 9: “Extract from official [birth] certificate…christened ‘Jonas Sternberg’...”
- Baxter, 1971. P. 8: “...when Jonas was three, his father left for the United States...”
- Graves, 1936, in Weinberg, 1967. P. 182: Born in Vienna to “Polish and Hungarian parents.”
- Baxter, 1971. P. 9: Mother’s name is listed on birth certificate photo.
- Baxter, 1971. P. 60
- Baxter, p. 8: His “overbearing” father “denied [Sternberg] all [non-religious] books...”
- Baxter, 1993. P. 86
- Sarris, 1966. P. 22
- Baxter, 1971. P. 14
- Baxter, 1971 p. 9
- Baxter, 1971. p. 9
- Sarris, 1966. P. 5
- Weinberg, 1967. P. 17“...found work as a film-patcher for the [former] World Film Company, gradually working himself up to cutter, writer, assistance director and finally personal manager to William A. Brady of the World Film Company."
- Baxter, 1971. p. 23
- Sarris, 1966. P. 5
- Weinberg, 1967. P. 17 “...Sternberg joined the [US] Army Signal Corps” in 1917 [when the United States entered WWI], stationed at eh G.H.Q. in Washington, D.C., where he made training films for recruits...cited for exemplary service.”
- Baxter, 1971. p. 23
- Sarris, 1966. P. 5
- Baxter, 1971. P. 24-25
- Sarris, 1966. P. 5
- Weinberg, 1967. P. 17-18
- Baxter, 1971. P. 24-25
- Baxter, 1993. p. 93: "In 1923 Sternberg acquired the implicitly aristocratic 'von' in his credit as assistant director [for] By Divine Right. That part of the gag...had an implicit association with the name of Erich von Stroheim, another émigré Viennese filmmaker..."
- Sarris, 1998. P. 212
- Sarris, 1966. P. 6
- Weinberg, 1967. P. 17
- Sarris, 1966 p. 6
- Baxter, 1971. p. 23
- Weinberg, 1967. P. 17
- Sarris, 1966. P. 6
- Baxter, 1971. p. 24
- Weinberg, 1967. P. 18-19: "Sternberg travelled widely in Europe and the United States. In 1924, Sternberg acted as assistant director to Neill on Vanity's Price at FBO (Film Booking Office) studios in Hollywood, California."
- Baxter, 1971. P. 25-26: see footnote “October 8, 1924” review
- Baxter, 1971. p. 31
- Silver, 2010
- Baxter, 1971. p. 26-27
- Sarris, 1966. P. 10
- Weinberg, 1967. p. 19, p. 22
- Baxter, 1971. p. 26-27
- Weinberg, 1967. P. 22: “The Salvation Hunters highly praised by artists and critics for its “artistic composition” and “rhythm of presentation”
- Baxter, 1971. P. 28
- Baxter, 1971. P. 31
- Baxter, 1971. p. 31
- Sarris, 1966. P. 12
- Baxter, 1993. P. 54
- Sarris, 1966. P. 10, p. 53
- Baxter, 1971. P. 29-30
- Sarris, 1966. P. 11
- Weinberg, 1967. P. 24
- Baxter, 1971. P. 32
- Baxter, 1993. P. 57
- Weinberg, 1967. p. 24
- Sarris, 1966. P. 7-8
- Baxter, 1971. P. 32-33
- Weinberg, 1967. p. 25, p. 26-27: Florey declared, based on two reels, that the Masked Bride (had it been completed) “would still be showing today in cine-clubs and film societies everywhere; it was a masterpiece..."
- Baxter, 1993. P. 55, p. 56
- Sarris, 1966. P. 12
- Baxter, 1993. P. 56
- Weinberg, 1967. P. 25
- Baxter, 1971. P. 34: “Chaplin had intended a come-back for actress Edna Purviance…”
- Weinberg, 1967. P. 27
- Baxter, 1971. P. 34, 36
- Baxter, 1971. P. 34, 36
- Baxter, 1993. P.111-112
- Sarris, 1966. P. 13
- Baxter, 1971. P. 15, p. 34: Sternberg regarded The Sea Gull episode as a “failure” and an “unpleasant experience” and p. 36-37: “…a damaging blow...depressed by failure.”
- Baxter, 1993. P. 86: Sternberg "cross as a bear" and "thrown her out of her own home."
- Baxter, 1971. P. 36
- Jeanne and Ford, 1965 in Weinberg, 1967. P. 211
- Weinberg, 1967. p. 31
- Sarris, 1966. P. 15:"...the first in a tradition” that is presented from “the point of view of the gangster...” See also p. 23, p. 66.
Baxter, 1971. p. 43: "opened the door, however selectively, on the reality of modern crime..."
Wienberg, 1967. P. 34: the film “sets the pattern for the whole cycle of American gangster films." and "...the [gangster] genre...so eloquently established."
Baxter, 1993. P. 33: “romanticized gangland” movie.
- Kehr, Dave. "Underworld," Chicago Reader, accessed October 11, 2010.
- Siegel, Scott, & Siegel, Barbara (2004). The Encyclopedia of Hollywood. 2nd edition. Checkmark Books. p. 178. ISBN 0-8160-4622-0
- Baxter, 1971. p. 43: "It was to French cinema" that [Sternberg's] filmmaking "left a permanent mark on the art."
- Baxter, 1971. P. 43-44: "Paramount willing to give him anything he wanted."
- Sarris, 1966. P. 15-16: “Some historians” trace the film to “the beginnings of Sternberg’s compromise with Hollywood...other honor the film…for stylistic experiments...”
- Baxter, 1971. P. 43: “...first work to suggest the personal style of later years.”
- Baxter, 1971. P. 56
- Sarris, 1966. P. 16
- Jeanne and Ford, 1965. in Weinberg, 1967. P. 212
- Baxter, 1972. P. 52
- Baxter, 1971. P. 44
- Baxter, 1971. P. 15-16: When Sternberg “accepted a commission by Paramount Pictures to cut down to manageable length one of Stroheim’s best films...it destroyed their friendship.”
- Baxter, 1971. p. 53, p. 54
- Baxter, 1971. p. 58
- Silver, 2010. “Of his nine silent films, only four survive. These other works (Underworld, The Last Command, and The Docks of New York) are so good that one must conclude that Sternberg’s career, more than that of any other director, suffers from the blight on film history we have come think of as ‘lost-film syndrome.’”
- Sarris, 1966. P. 22: “...doubly unfortunate…more personal...more unusual” that his recent films.
- Howarth and Omasta, 2007. p. 287
- Howarth and Omasta, 2007. p. 33
- Baxter, 1971. p. 58
- Howarth and Omasta, 2007.
- Sarris, 1966. P. 23: “Overlooked” by film historians...a “startling experiments” in Soviet school sound techniques using ‘asynchronous” methods…”employs sound contrapuntally.” P. 24: “...as much a musical as a melodrama…”
- Baxter 1971. P. 61: “...Paramount injects a lavish measure of music and comedy...”
- Baxter, 1971. P. 52-53, p. 62
- Baxter, 1971. P. 63
- Sarris, 1998. P. 396
- Sarris, 1966. P. 25
- Baxter, 1971. P. 72-73
- Sarris, 1998. P. 219-220
- Sarris, 1998. P. 220
- Baxter, 1993. P. 33, p. 40
- Baxter, 1971. P. 75
- Baxter, 1993. P. 136
- Kemp, Peter H. "Beyond Camp or the Politics of Persona: Josef von Sternberg's The Scarlet Empress". Senses of Cinema. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
- Buena suerte viviendo: Dolores del Río
- The Saga of Anatahan (1953): Joseph von Sternberg Archived 4 January 2006 at the Wayback Machine., Online Film Critics Society, at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Doors and Ben-Fong Torres, The Doors
- Wolf, Jaime."What A Design Guru Really Does", The New York Times, 1 December 2002. Accessed 23 October 2015. "Or the house in Weehawken that Walrod wants to save, which wasn't only designed by a close associate of Walter Gropius's but was also originally commissioned by Josef von Sternberg, later sold to an eccentric baroness who was famous for supporting jazz musicians like Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk and was ultimately, it turns out, the place where Monk died."
- Staff. "A NATIVE RETURNS; Josef Von Sternberg of Fond Memory Resumes Directing in Hollywood Winner Revelation", The New York Times, 10 September 1950. Accessed 23 October 2015. "or when Von Sternberg, after a long absence from Hollywood, was beckoned back here by Howard Hughes last fall from his home in Weehawken, N. J., he had no assurnace that he would even be handed the controls on 'Jet Pilot.'"
- Sarris, 1966. p. 6
- Brooks, 1965.
- Cardullo, et al., 1998. p. 76-77
- Sarris, 1966. p. 23
- Arnold, Edward. 1940. Lorenzo Goes to Hollywood: The Autobiography of Edward Arnold (New York: Liveright, 1940) pp. 256-277 in Playing to the Camera: Film Actors Discuss Their Craft. Bert Cardullo et al. 1998. P. 76-77 Yale University Press. New Haven and New York. ISBN 0-300-06983-9
- Baxter, John: The Cinema of Josef von Sternberg. London: A. Zwemmer / New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1971.
- Baxter, John: Von Sternberg. Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2010.
- Baxter, Peter: Just Watch!: Sternberg, Paramount and America. London: British Film Institute, 1993.
- Baxter, Peter (ed.): Sternberg. London: British Film Institute, 1980.
- Brooks, Louise. 1965. People will Talk. Aurum Press/A.Knopf. 1986. pp. 71-97, in Playing to the Camera: Film Actors Discuss Their Craft. Bert Cardullo et al. 1998. p. 51 Yale University Press. New Haven and New York. ISBN 0-300-06983-9
- Cardullo, Bert, et al. 1998. Playing to the Camera: Film Actors Discuss Their Craft. Yale University Press. New Haven and New York. ISBN 0-300-06983-9
- Horwath, Alexander and Omasta, Michael(Ed.). 2007. Josef von Sternberg. The Case of Lena Smith. Vienna: SYNEMA - Gesellschaft für Film und Medien, 2007, ISBN 978-3-901644-22-1 (Filmmuseum-Synema-Publikationen Vol. 5).
- Sarris, Andrew: The Films of Josef von Sternberg. New York: Doubleday, 1966.
- Sarris, Andrew. 1998. “You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet.” The American Talking Film History & Memory, 1927-1949. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513426-5
- Silver, Charles. 2010. Josef von Sternberg’s The Docks of New York. https://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2010/05/11/josef-von-sternbergs-the-docks-of-new-york/ Retrieved 6 August 2018.
- Studlar, Gaylyn: In the Realm of Pleasure: Von Sternberg, Dietrich, and the Masochistic Aesthetic. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.
- Weinberg, Herman G., 1967. Josef von Sternberg. A Critical Study. New York: Dutton.
- Alexander Horwath, Michael Omasta (Ed.), Josef von Sternberg. The Case of Lena Smith, FilmmuseumSynemaPublikationen Vol. 5, Vienna 2007, ISBN 978-3-901644-22-1. Book on Josef von Sternberg's last silent movie - one of the legendary lost masterpieces of the American cinema.
- Josef von Sternberg on IMDb
- Senses Of Cinema: Josef von Sternberg
- Josef von Sternberg at Find a Grave
- Literature on Josef von Sternberg
- For the Icon, The Shadow, and The Glimmer Between: 3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg, Daniel Kasman, MUBI (23 August 2010)