Peter M Howard ::

Desire (1936)

23Oct2005 [movies]

Just watched Desire, a Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper black and white from 1936. Dietrich plays a European con-chick/jewel-thief; Gary Cooper is the cool all-American who has his car and his heart stolen... Nothing special story-wise, and Cooper's cool-American dialogue gets very annoying (though more because of all the terrible dialogue it inspired in modern films). But, some dialogue points:

Dietrich's character asks Aunt Olga if she wants her brandy straight; she responds "Brandy's the only thing I'm straight about". But the pun on her crookedness was lost terribly in the French subtitle: "I never put water in my wine".

Also interesting was a little conversation towards the end. Remember that this film is set in 1936. The threat of oncoming war is referred to rather obliquely, and there is a metaphor of Cooper as 'America' making threats (and he's a big guy) -- it's all metaphor of course, the 'war' is supposed to be related to stolen pearls, America's influence is Cooper trying to be the 'good guy' and return the pearls to their rightful owner. The filmmakers took the opportunity to drop some _very_ interesting (ie, in the historical and cultural context) statements in dialogue, including Aunt Olga's "If America is wise, it will never mix in European affairs"; and Cooper's "You can't underestimate America, that would be a foolish thing to do; it's a big country".

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