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(aka 'Venus Blonde')

Directed by Josef von Sternberg
USA 19
32

 

Josef von Sternberg returned Marlene Dietrich to the stage in Blonde Venus, both a glittering spectacle and a sweeping melodrama about motherly devotion. Unfolding episodically, the film tells the story of Helen (Dietrich), once a German chanteuse, now an American housewife, who resurrects her stage career after her husband (Herbert Marshall) falls ill; she then becomes the mistress of a millionaire (Cary Grant), in a slide from loving martyr to dishonored woman. Despite production difficulties courtesy of the Hays Office, the director’s baroque visual style shines, as do one of the most memorable musical numbers in all of cinema and a parade of visionary costumes by von Sternberg and Dietrich’s longtime collaborator Travis Banton.

 

Posters

 

Theatrical Release: September 14th, 1932

Reviews                                                                                    More Reviews                                                                               DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Elephant Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

(Elephant Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT)

Box Covers

 

 

    

 

 

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:

  

 

Distribution

Elephant Films

Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Criterion - Spine #934
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:33:56.922 1:34:17.860
Video

1.33:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 22,203,643,926 bytes

Feature: 19,881,388,032 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 38,241,581,363 bytes

Feature: 28,171,364,352 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.69 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

 

Elephant Films Blu-ray

 

Bitrate:

 

Criterion Blu-ray

 

Audio DTS-HD Master Audio English 1655 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1655 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

Subtitles French, none English SDH, none
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Elephant Films

 

1.33:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 22,203,643,926 bytes

Feature: 19,881,388,032 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.98 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

Intro (1:20 in French)
Portrait of Marlene Dietrich (12:34 in French)
Same dude talking about the film (12:20 in French)
Photo Gallery
DVD included


Blu-ray Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Custom Blu-ray Case

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

 

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 38,241,581,363 bytes

Feature: 28,171,364,352 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.69 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

The Marlene Dietrich Collection (14:43)
New interview with historian Deborah Nadoolman Landis (15:03)
The Fashion Side of Hollywood, a 1935 publicity short featuring Dietrich and costume designer Travis Banton (10:24)


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

Chapters 31

 

 

Comments

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

ADDITION: (May 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.

Criterion have given us a significant upgrade over the previously available French Blu-ray from Elephant Films, as well as the Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection DVD set REVIEWED HERE. Criterion's Blonde Venus is brought to us on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. The Criterion transfer is in the 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Grain is evident throughout the film but this is not unlike films of its time. Contrast levels are much better on the Criterion, with deeper blacks. The Criterion image quality is well above the Elephant Films Blu-ray, which shows egregious artifacts (see zoomed-in sample) and can look a shade waxy. There is pleasing detail on the Criterion in the feathers, fur, or lace on any of Dietrich's glamorous outfits.

Where the Elephant Films use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel mono (16-bit), Criterion have given us a 24-bit linear PCM 1.0 mono audio track. This gives the Criterion a shade more depth - both sound authentically flat. One of Dietrich's classic numbers, "Hot Voodoo" (performed at O'Connor's club) sounds delightful. The sequence is certainly of questionable taste, yet a product of the Pre-Code Era. Other numbers such as "You Little So-and-So" and "I Couldn't be Annoyed" also sound quite good. Though uncredited, the music of W. Franke Harling, John Leipold, Paul Marquardt, and Oscar Potoker can be heard throughout. There are optional English subtitles on this Criterion's Region 'A'
Blu-ray. and only removable French on the Elephant Films.

Elephant Films have some extras - an introduction and video piece - all in, only, French. It does include a PAL DVD of the film. Criterion have given us a brand new 15-minute interview with Deborah Nadoolman Landis, the director of the David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design at UCLA. In this interview, Landis discusses the importance of costume designer Travis Banton, whose contribution to the creation of actor Marlene Dietrich's star image is arguably as important as that of director Josef von Sternberg. Speaking of Banton, Criterion have also given us a 10-minute 1935 publicity short, "The Fashion Side of Hollywood" featuring Dietrich and the aforementioned costume designer. This short features Dietrich silently modeling clothes that Banton had designed for her. "The Marlene Dietrich Collection" is a 15-minute feature delving into the treasure trove of costumes, art, and documents located at the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin. Nobody collected Marlene Dietrich memorabilia more avidly than Dietrich herself, and by the end of her life she had amassed a giant treasure trove of material. This brand new feature from Criterion interviews curator Silke Ronneburg regarding the collection.

Blonde Venus is a very outlandish film for its time. Like most von Sternberg/Dietrich collaborations there is an explicit sense of exoticism and eroticism. Though the picture's wonderful costume design, lighting and camerawork have not been diminished over time, the film is interesting as an archival expression of the early 30's style. The Criterion, part of their
Dietrich and von Sternberg in Hollywood Blu-ray set is the one to own - eclipsing the Elephant films in every area audio/video and supplements.   

 - Colin Zavitz and Gary Tooze

  

 


 Menus
Elephant Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
 

 


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

Screen Captures

(Universal (Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC (REVIEWED HERE)  - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


1) Universal (Marlene Dietrich: The Glamour Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC (REVIEWED HERE) - TOP

2) (Elephant Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

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

 

 


ZOOMED IN

(Elephant Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Elephant Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Elephant Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Elephant Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

(Elephant Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Elephant Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Elephant Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Elephant Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Elephant Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Sound:

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Extras: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 
Box Covers

 

 

    

 

 

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:

  

 

Distribution

Elephant Films

Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Criterion - Spine #934
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray

 

 




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