“Dishonored” at the Cinematheque tonight

The Cinematheque begins its summer program tonight with a screening that is, in my book, cause for celebration: Josef von Sternberg’s “Dishonored” (1931), starring—who else—Marlene Dietrich as “smoldering secret agent X-27, an Austrian spy behind enemy lines (and between enemy sheets) in WWI” (this wonderful description comes courtesy of the Cinematheque’s website, where you can also find the rest of its schedule for July).

Jean-Luc Godard deemed “Dishonored” the 10th best American sound film in the December 1963/January 1964 issue of Cahiers du cinéma, placing it alongside such untouchable masterpieces as Orson Welles’s “The Lady From Shanghai,” Otto Preminger’s “Angel Face,” Nicholas Ray’s “Bigger Than Life” and Charles Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator.” The opportunity to see this film, which isn’t currently available on DVD here (or anywhere, it seems), is not to be missed.

The Dietrich-Sternberg alliance shined with a sort of negative luminosity and emotional fragility when “The Blue Angel” played at the Play Circle in January; expect tonight’s screening to be a similarly phenomenal—though probably more baroque, thanks in no small part to the Paramount C.R.E.A.M. with which the film was made—display of Sternberg’s singular cinematic artistry. The screening begins at 7 at Vilas Hall. See you there?

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