Dishonored | Chicago Reader


91 minutes

It's possible to look at this 1931 Josef von Sternberg film and see nothing but camp (it stars Marlene Dietrich as secret agent X-27, working behind the lines in World War I), but give it an ounce of respect and you'll discover a remarkable aesthetic object—an exercise in mise-en-scene of an awesome, glacial beauty. Audiences always howl during the final scene, in which Dietrich carefully retouches her makeup before facing a firing squad, but it is perhaps the purest expression of Sternberg's belief in the triumph of aesthetics over mortality. With Victor McLaglen, Lew Cody, and Warner Oland. Cited by Jean-Luc Godard as one of the greatest American movies since the coming of sound.

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