We have started a Patreon page with the hopes that some of our followers would be willing to donate a small amount to keep DVDBeaver alive. We are a tiny niche, so your generosity is vital to our existence.

We are talking about a minimum of $0.10 - $0.15 a day, perhaps a quarter (or more) to those who won't miss it from their budget. It equates to buying DVDBeaver a coffee once, twice or a few times a month. You can then participate in our monthly Silent auctions, and have exclusive access to many 'bonus' High Resolution screen captures - both 4K UHD and Blu-ray (see HERE).

To those that are unfamiliar, Patreon is a secure/verified third-party service where users can agree to a monthly donation via credit card or PayPal by clicking the button below.


 

Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Agent X-27')

Directed by Josef von Sternberg
USA 19
31

 

My favorite among the seven glittering Josef von Sternberg features starring Marlene Dietrich, all of them made between 1930 and 1935, is ironically the least well known, and currently available only as a Swedish import, although Jean-Luc Godard once included it in a list of his ten favorite American films. It’s the second American film Sternberg made with Dietrich, although it was completed before he released the first (Morocco), and in some ways it’s the most stylistically perfect of all his sound features. In it, Dietrich plays X-27, a character clearly inspired by Mara Hari — an Austrian prostitute whose patriotism leads her to agree to spy on the Russians (in particular, Victor McLaglen) and whose activities ultimately lead to her death by firing squad.

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's article "30 Great Movies on DVD" located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: April 4th, 1931

Reviews                                                                              More Reviews                                                                        DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Universal (Europe) - Region 2,4,5 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

1) Universal Europe - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Cover

   

Part of Criterion's Dietrich and von Sternberg in Hollywood [Blu-ray] with Morocco, Dishonored, Shanghai Express, Blonde Venus, The Scarlet Empress, The Devil Is a Woman:

  

 

Part of Indicator's Marlene Dietrich & Josef von Sternberg at Paramount, 1930-1935 (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]

with Morocco, Dishonored, Shanghai Express, Blonde Venus, The Scarlet Empress, The Devil Is a Woman:

Distribution Universal (Europe) Home Video - Region 2,4,5- PAL Criterion - Spine #932 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Indicator - Spine #130
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:27:30 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:31:41.245 1:31:27.273
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.1 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.19:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 43,871,253,137 bytes

Feature: 27,496,955,904 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.86 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.19:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 43,912,878,809 bytes

Feature: 26,802,694,272 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Criterion Blu-ray

Bitrate: Indicator Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, German, French, Dutch, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish, Danish, None English (SDH), None English (SDH), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Universal (Europe) Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date: December 6th, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters: 18

Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

 

1.19:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 43,871,253,137 bytes

Feature: 27,496,955,904 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.86 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

Dietrich Icon - New documentary on Dietrich’s status as a feminist icon, featuring film scholars Mary Desjardins, Amy Lawrence, and Patricia White (20:23)
Bodies and Spaces, Fabric and Light - New video essay by critics Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin (29:17)
New interview with director Josef von Sternberg’s son, Nicholas (14:50)


Blu-ray Release Date:
July 3rd, 2018
Custom Blu-ray Case

Chapters 17

Release Information:
Studio:
Indicator

 

1.19:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 43,912,878,809 bytes

Feature: 26,802,694,272 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Introduction by Nicholas von Sternberg (2019, 11:28): the son of Josef von Sternberg discusses Dishonored
• Josef von Sternberg, a Retrospective (1969, 1:17:54): feature-length television documentary by the acclaimed Belgian filmmaker Harry Kümel, containing rare interview footage with von Sternberg
• “I did what he told me to do.” (2019, 16:46): video essay on the films of Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg by film historian Tag Gallagher
• Image gallery: promotional and publicity material
• UK premiere on
Blu-ray
• Limited edition exclusive 120-page book with a new essay by Pamela Hutchinson, archival interviews and articles, an overview of contemporary critical responses, film credits and more
UK premieres on Blu-ray
Limited Edition of 6,000 copies


Blu-ray Release Date: August 26th, 2019
Custom Blu-ray Case

Chapters 13

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: (August 2019) Indicator Region 'B' - Blu-ray: This is another disc of Indicator's Marlene Dietrich & Josef von Sternberg at Paramount, 1930-1935 (Limited Edition) Blu-ray that has Morocco, Dishonored, Shanghai Express, Blonde Venus, The Scarlet Empress, and The Devil Is a Woman. We will compare all of them to the corresponding Criterion Blu-rays.

Like Blonde Venus, the Indicator Dishonored transfer is extremely similar to the Criterion. It is also on a dual-layered Blu-ray disc with a max'ed out bitrate. The Indicator 1.19:1 aspect ratio image looks mostly exactly the same as the Criterion but there are instances - in certain scenes (see the subtitle capture) where the contrast is slightly different. In that particular case the Indicator is lighter with less-prominent black levels. We've compared 3 others as well as the subtitle - and each of those is, pretty much, exactly the same. Like Blonde Venus, this Indicator is also noted as being a "4K restoration".

The audio on the Indicator is exported using a 24-bit linear PCM 1.0 mono audio track. I couldn't hear any difference in Donauwellen (Danube Waves) nor Strauss' "Blue Danube Waltz", Haydn's "Kaiserlied" and Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" - it still moderately suffers from the limitations of the production era. It is flat and authentic. There are optional English subtitles on this Indicator's Region 'B' Blu-ray.

There are some excellent supplements on the Indicator Blu-ray. This also offers an introduction by Nicholas von Sternberg the son of Josef von Sternberg discusses Dishonored. It runs about a dozen minutes. Josef von Sternberg, a Retrospective was made in 1969 and runs over 1/ 1/4 hours. It is a feature-length Belgian television documentary (in Flemish) by the acclaimed  filmmaker Harry Kümel, containing rare interview with von Sternberg. I really enjoyed “I did what he told me to do” a new video essay on the films of Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg by film historian Tag Gallagher running 16-minutes. It is wonderful to have Tag back and providing us with these incredible visual essays. Lastly, is an image gallery of promotional and publicity material. The entire package has a limited edition (6,000 copies) exclusive 120-page book with a new essay by Pamela Hutchinson, archival interviews and articles, an overview of contemporary critical responses, film credits and more.

Dishonored has Dietrich as a seductive spy - which should be more than enough. Region 'B'ers will be immensely pleased with Indicator's Marlene Dietrich & Josef von Sternberg at Paramount, 1930-1935 (Limited Edition) that can easily compete with Criterion's Dietrich and von Sternberg in Hollywood from last year. Love this film. Strongly recommended!   

Gary Tooze    

***

ADDITION: (June 2018) Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray: This is the first disc of Criterion's Dietrich and von Sternberg in Hollywood Blu-ray that has Morocco, Dishonored, Shanghai Express, Blonde Venus, The Scarlet Empress, and The Devil Is a Woman. We will review all of them, shortly.

Criterion bring us Dishonored, as the second of the set. The film is housed on a dual-layered disc, with the feature having a max'ed out bitrate. The previous DVD had examples of edge-enhancement with some boosted black levels, that are not found on the Criterion 1080P. Grain is prevalent and consistent throughout, but that is par for the course with films of this era. Contrast levels are much better on this Criterion Blu-ray. There are very few instances of frame-specific damage, it is not noticeable in motion.

Audio is transferred in a linear PCM 1.0 mono track (24-bit). Though sound technology in 1931 was still in its infancy, but the transfer here is faithful to the theatrical experience of the era. Donauwellen (Danube Waves) sounds as good as ever here, as does Strauss' "Blue Danube Waltz", Haydn's "Kaiserlied" and Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" within the limitations of the production era. Though the audio can sound a bit flat at times, this is true to the original track and there are few, if any, instances of hisses or pops. There are optional English subtitles on this Region 'A'
Blu-ray disc.

Criterion add three supplements on this disc. "Bodies and Spaces, Fabric and Light" is a brand new half-hour video essay featuring film scholars Cristina Alvarez Lopez and Adrian Martin covering the visual style and formal brilliance of the Hollywood films of Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich. "Dietrich Icon" is another brand new documentary produced by Criterion. The 20-minute video piece features interviews with film scholars Mary Desjardine, Amy Lawrence, and Patricia White. The group discuss the collaboration on the creation of Dietrich's star image between the actor and director Josef von Sternberg, along with her role as a Hollywood icon. "Nicholas Von Sternberg" is a 2014 interview with Josef von Sternberg's son, Nicholas, who discusses his father's work with actor Marlene Dietrich.

Dishonored is a welcome addition to this
Dietrich and von Sternberg in Hollywood Blu-ray set from Criterion. The visual and audio upgrades from previous SD editions are significant and should please fans. The extras on this disc are particularly enlightening as well. Another integral part of this set. The film is also strongly recommended!

Colin Zavitz    

***

ON THE DVD (2005): For a single layered DVD this looks marvelous. I see no evidence of manipulation and there is just a healthy smattering of film grain for a realistic film-like appearance. Contrast is very strong and black levels are deep and penetrating. If any of us had been able to obtain these in time I am sure a few of these Universal DVDs would have made our 2005 DVD of the Year poll. These discs have been region-coded to sell in Europe, Middle East, Russia and Australia and enough removable subtitle options have been added to help their universality. No extras and a very no frills package but its the films that many cineastes have craved for years... and they are here. Dietrich seems timeless as you watch her and its so much fun to see a film with so much style over substance - perhaps this is the quality giving it such endurance.

Gary W. Tooze

  

 


DVD Menus


 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Universal Europe - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Universal Europe - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal Europe - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal Europe - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal Europe - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal Europe - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal Europe - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal Europe - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal Europe - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 


Box Cover

   

Part of Criterion's Dietrich and von Sternberg in Hollywood [Blu-ray] with Morocco, Dishonored, Shanghai Express, Blonde Venus, The Scarlet Empress, The Devil Is a Woman:

  

 

Part of Indicator's Marlene Dietrich & Josef von Sternberg at Paramount, 1930-1935 (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray]

with Morocco, Dishonored, Shanghai Express, Blonde Venus, The Scarlet Empress, The Devil Is a Woman:

Distribution Universal (Europe) Home Video - Region 2,4,5- PAL Criterion - Spine #932 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Indicator - Spine #130
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray




 

Hit Counter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Mississauga, Ontario,

   CANADA

Thank You!