Skip to content

Dietrich & Garbo in the 1930s

  • December 1, 2018 – December 30, 2018

Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich were two of Hollywood’s—and the world’s—biggest movie stars in that most crucial decade, the 1930s, in which the industry was just beginning to perfect the use of sound in motion pictures. Garbo moved from her native Sweden to Hollywood during the silent era and made a string of beautiful pictures at MGM, while Dietrich came from Germany later, achieving immediate success as Josef von Sternberg’s main collaborator at Paramount, having been brought over to counter MGM’s success with Garbo. At the beginning of the 30s, the two starred in many films that would later become known as pre-Code: scandal-laced films where almost anything went. Both were famously, frequently androgynous on screen, playing to the hilt their smoky voices and seductive visages, always swathed in layers of immaculate costumes, copious cigarette smoke, and hazy cinematography. The two were fierce rivals, to be sure, but rumors of a prolonged affair between them have for 80 years swirled in Hollywood and beyond—to which both consistently replied that they never once met. However, what we are left with is their immaculate films from this golden period: towering achievements of staging, cinematography, writing, and featuring some of the finest acting ever committed to celluloid by two strong, independent women who have since become unquestionable legends of the silver screen.

Sat, Dec 1

Ninotchka

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch

Coming at a time in which Greta Garbo’s career was in sharp decline—her popularity waned in the US, while in

Sun, Dec 2

Destry Rides Again

Directed by George Marshall

In this vintage Western, the glamourous Marlene Dietrich stars as Frenchy, a dance hall singer and entertainer caught up in

Sun, Dec 2

The Kiss

Directed by Jacques Feyder

By 1929, Greta Garbo had already been under contract at MGM for several years making pictures like Flesh and the

Sun, Dec 9

The Blue Angel

Directed by Josef von Sternberg

The Blue Angel, German cinema’s first full-talkie following one of world cinema’s most storied silent film histories, shot star Marlene

Sun, Dec 9

Anna Christie

Directed by Clarence Brown

“Garbo talks!” read the tagline for this relatively unglamorous 1930 MGM work, adapted from the Pulitzer-Prize-winning play by Eugene O’Neill

Sat, Dec 15

Morocco

Directed by Josef von Sternberg

Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg’s first Hollywood collaboration, Morocco is a gauzy, dust-covered tale of lust and betrayal, following

Sun, Dec 16

Dishonored

Directed by Josef von Sternberg

A spy thriller featuring Josef von Sternberg’s considerable talents at creating and evoking both atmosphere and deeply buried emotion, Dishonored

Fri, Dec 21

Mata Hari

Directed by George Fitzmaurice

One of MGM’s greatest commercial successes of the pre-Code era and the biggest box-office hit of Greta Garbo’s career is

Sat, Dec 22

Shanghai Express

Directed by Josef von Sternberg

The film that completely cemented Marlene Dietrich in Hollywood lore, Shanghai Express features some of von Sternberg’s most indelible compositions

Sat, Dec 22

Blonde Venus

Directed by Josef von Sternberg

Six months after the massive success of their other 1932 collaboration, Shanghai Express, Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg tackled

Sun, Dec 23

Queen Christina

Directed by Rouben Mamoulian

Queen Christina was a massive commercial hit for MGM both at home and abroad—this time perhaps due to Greta Garbo’s

Sun, Dec 23

The Scarlet Empress

Directed by Josef von Sternberg

Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg tackle the historical costume drama—in this case the court of Catherine the Great. However,

Fri, Dec 28

The Devil is a Woman

Directed by Josef von Sternberg

The final of six Paramount collaborations between director von Sternberg and star Marlene Dietrich, whose relationship over the preceding five

Sat, Dec 29

Anna Karenina

Directed by Clarence Brown

A massive commercial and critical success upon release in 1935, Anna Karenina was, at the time, one of the biggest

Sun, Dec 30

Camille

Directed by George Cukor

A smoldering romantic barn-burner adapted from an Alexandre Dumas story, Camille was one of the most successful films of both