So here’s the thing about Marlene. Even though I know she’s got a (von-Sternberg-lit) face to kill for, and a magnetic vulnerability that is devastating, it’s the sense that if she were lost in a jungle, she would not only know how to spot the deadly snakes, she could machete her way to safety, drink the locals under the table, and still have perfect eyebrows. That is what I love about her.
Now I’m no expert, and there are a ton of her films I’ve yet to see, but apart from her ability to make cigarette smoking obscene, and an amazing way with hats and shadows, there is a remarkable range underneath the ridiculously famous face and voice, which - especially in later years - she gets to show off. And there is also, as well as an air of tragedy, a sense of humour, and a self-awareness that makes her human, rather than just iconic. She is iconic of course; I could happily watch the cabaret scene from Morocco on a loop forever, but when she gets the chance to really act, she takes it.
I like her best when she has a top-quality leading man (Coop, Donat, Jimmy Stewart - because I am an equal opportunities ogler), or - as in her later films - when she plays with her persona, either working it to the hilt (Stage Fright) or twisting it to great effect (Witness for the Prosecution).
Favourite Role: Frenchy in Destry Rides Again (1939) which is a delight of a film, zippy, funny and taut, with a fabulous turn from Dietrich who has marvellous chemistry with Jimmy Stewart as the laconic yet determined Destry.
Another good place to start: Christine in Witness for the Prosecution (1957) which is a perfect film, full of humour and tension with a marvellous cast, and a terrific performance from Marlene. On a lighter note, Madeleine in Desire (1936) which, while not as iconic as her previous film with Gary Cooper is (I think) much better; romantic, comedic, and you get goofy Coop instead of cocky Coop, and that’s my favourite Coop.
the idea that cullen is supposed to be a voice for all the templars hurt by the circle system is so wild like the man has repeatedly demonstrated a staggering lack of consideration for fellow members of the order who have been through the ordeals he demands sympathy for
he will narrate the events of kinloch hold to the inquisitor as his personal tragedy but when keran had been captured by blood mages, cullen’s response was to argue that he be thrown out of the order
he will apparently tell you he only followed meredith’s orders because he was afraid of being cut off from lyrium but he will call samson weak for struggling with addiction
he asks to “personally oversee” the judgement of knight captain denam - who was following orders under the influence of red lyrium AND an envy demon - and is wholly condemnatory towards the man, yelling about how denam “following his superiors orders nearly destroyed the templar order” as if he did not literally do the same thing two years earlier
i cannot tell if he’s intentionally written to be a giant fucking hypocrite, or if his writers were so desperate to distance him from all the shit he’s been part of that they inadvertently made him look like one but honestly i feel no sympathy for him at all
Think back to where you started. Consider how far you’ve progressed. Know that your story has not yet ended. Believe in the good that’s to come. Be mindful of your heart’s light. For it shines only upon the path of truth. Follow your desires. Believe in possibly. Know that nothing is beyond those who pursue their dreams.