The Blue Angel (1959 film)

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The Blue Angel
The Blue Angel FilmPoster.jpeg
Film poster
Directed byEdward Dmytryk
Produced byJack Cummings
Written byNigel Balchin
Based onDer Blaue Engel
1930 film
by Heinrich Mann
StarringCurd Jürgens
May Britt
Theodore Bikel
Music byHugo Friedhofer
CinematographyLeon Shamroy
Edited byJack W. Holmes
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • September 4, 1959 (1959-09-04) (New York)[1]
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.7 million[2]
Box office$1.4 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)[3]

The Blue Angel is a 1959 American drama film in CinemaScope directed by Edward Dmytryk.[4] The film is a remake of Josef von Sternberg's 1930 film The Blue Angel about cabaret singer Lola-Lola and the troubled, aged Professor Rath, who falls for her much to his own detriment.


Professor Immanuel Rath (Curt Jurgens) is shocked to discover a number of his students have been frequenting a nightspot called the Blue Angel, where a scandalous entertainer named Lola (May Britt) performs. Rath attends the show one night in order to catch some of his boys in this den of wickedness, but he is soon drawn into Lola's sensual spell, and in time becomes involved in an obsessive romance with her that costs him his job, his savings and his dignity.[5]



In 1955, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights to remake the original film as a possible vehicle for Marilyn Monroe and Spencer Tracy, but both turned it down.[6][7] Other actors reportedly considered for the film were Fredric March as Professor Rath[7] and Lou Jacobi as Klepert.[6]


Reviews were mixed to negative. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times panned the film as "ponderous," finding a "zombie-like quality" in Curd Jürgens' acting and describing the restraint placed upon May Britt as "difficult to fathom ... she looks and behaves like a normal ballet dancer in a Broadway musical show, not like a slinky sex-pot in a smoky night-club in Berlin."[8] Harrison's Reports disagreed and called Jürgens' performance "powerful," further opining that Britt "emerges as a gaminesque sprite with many of the qualities that brought fame to Shirley MacLaine."[9] Variety wrote, "As a boxoffice commodity 'The Blue Angel' will be a fair entry. It will not be the rocker that the Jannings-Dietrich impact made, and, while suffering inevitable comparison, neither Jurgens nor Miss Britt need be ashamed of their performances."[10] Richard L. Coe of The Washington Post praised Jürgens for a "wholly engrossing performance," but called it "too bad" that the remake was "a soft, charmingly hued pastel that twins with Soap Opera."[11] The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote that "one need have no knowledge of the original to find the new version slow and lifeless. It totally lacks the stifling atmosphere of sordid and obsessive sexuality which is essential to give conviction to the German sadism of the story."[12] The Guardian thought the new, happier ending of the remake was "a monstrosity" and found May Britt "a demure and vapid siren" when compared to Marlene Dietrich, adding, "The best that can be said for this travesty is that it may encourage someone to show the first version again."[13]


The director of the original 1930 film, Josef von Sternberg, sued Fox for $1 million, claiming that he was the one who owned the rights to a remake and that Fox had made a film "so inferior that it decreased the value of the original." The case was settled out of court.[6][7]


  1. ^ "The Blue Angel - Details". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  2. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p251
  3. ^ "1959: Probable Domestic Take", Variety, January 6, 1960 p 34
  4. ^ "The Blue Angel". NY Times. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
  5. ^ The Blue Angel (1959 film) details,; accessed September 8, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c "The Blue Angel - History". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Baxter, John (2010). Von Sternberg. University Press of Kentucky. p. 259. ISBN 9780813126012.
  8. ^ Crowther, Bosley (September 5, 1959). "Screen: The Blue Angel". The New York Times: 11.
  9. ^ "'The Blue Angel' with Curt Jurgens, May Britt". Harrison's Reports: 140. August 29, 1959.
  10. ^ "The Blue Angel". Variety: 6. August 26, 1956.
  11. ^ Coe, Richard L. (September 18, 1959). "Naturally, May Is Not Marlene". The Washington Post: C12.
  12. ^ "The Blue Angel". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 26 (309): 132. October 1959.
  13. ^ "A new 'Blue Angel'". The Guardian: 5. September 19, 1959.

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