Aussage Marlene Dietrichs zum „Blauen Engel“ (1960)

Die Twentieth Century Fox produzierte 1959 unter der Regie von Edward Dmytryk ein Remake des Blauen Engel. Josef von Sternberg verklagte die Fox wegen Plagiat und Verletzung seines Urheberrechts.
Marlene Dietrich wurde am 15. März 1960 im United States District Court/ Southern District of California, Central Division durch zwei Anwälte Josef von Sternbergs (Mr. E. und Mr. B.) und einen Anwalt der Century Fox (Mr. C) vernommen. Das Protokoll der Anhörung wurde durch einen Notar beglaubigt.
Eine Kopie der Abschrift schickte Meri von Sternberg, die Witwe des Regisseurs, 1987 an Maria Riva.
Die hier publizierte Version enthält die komplette Anhörung ohne die Eingangsformalien und die Erklärung des Notars. Die Namensschreibungen wurden nicht korrigiert, die Namen der Anwälte sind nur durch ihren Anfangsbuchstaben gekennzeichnet.
Fotos wurden hinzugefügt; sie sind nicht im Originaldokument enthalten.
Das Original befindet sich in der Marlene Dietrich Collection Berlin – Deutsche Kinemathek.
Veröffentlicht mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Marlene Dietrich Collection GmbH.

TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 1960, at 12:15 P.M.

Called as a witness by and on behalf of the Plaintiff, being first duly sworn, testified as follows :

THE REPORTER: What is your full name, please?
THE WITNESS: Marie Magdalene Sieber.


Q         Have you ever been known by any other name, Mrs. Sieber?
A         Yes, Marlene Dietrich.
Q         Miss Dietrich, do you know a Josef von Sternberg who is the plaintiff in this action?
A         Yes.
Q         Where did you first meet Mr. von Sternberg?
A         At UFA, the film company’s office, when he was preparing a film.
Q         Did you meet him in those offices?
A         Yes.
Q         Or did you see him prior to that at any time?
A         No.
Q         That was sometime in 1929, was it?
A         Yes, we made the picture. It is in all the books. I don’t know what month but it was ’29. It must have been late in the year.
Q         Is that the picture that was entitled The Blue Angel?
A         Yes.
Q         And it starred you and Emil Jannings?
A         No, I was not starred.
Q         You were an actress in that picture?
A         Yes.

Emil Jannings

Q        Mr. Jannings also depicted and portrayed a principal character in that picture, did he?
A        He was the star, yes.
Q       Had you know Mr. Jannings prior to your participation in this picture?
A        No.
Q       At the time that you first met Mr. von Sternberg, who introduced you to him, do you remember?
A       Well, I was led into his office because UFA had called for me to come there.
Q       Did you know for what purpose you were in his office or why you had come?
A       Yes, because the papers were full of it, that he was in Berlin to make the picture.
Q       What picture is that?
A        The Blue Angel.
Q:      At that time did it have any title?
A       No, I don’t think so. We knew that he had come to make a picture with Jannings for UFA, and he also had been in the theatre where I was playing.
Q         Well, had he been in the theatre before or after you had come to his office?
A         Before. He had come there to look at the star of that play called Hans Albers, who later on played in the picture. He was the star of the show I was in.
Q         But you didn’t speak to him at that time, did you?
A         Oh, no, I was nothing.
Q         And you never met him until you came to UFA?
A         Yes, that is right. The story is that he came and saw me and said, „I must have you in this picture or everything is all wrong.“
This has been printed a lot of times. It is not true.
Q        Now, did you have a conversation with Mr. von Sternberg in his office on that day?
A         Yes.
Q         What did you say to him and what did he say to you?

Erich Pommer

A         He said that he saw me on the stage and that he wanted me to appear in his picture, and I was trying to find a small part because people had been talking about the kind of picture he was going to make and I didn’t know what he was talking about,
And then Mr. Pommer came in and he was polite to me, but I had the feeling that they just let Mr. von Sternberg do what he wanted to do. I didn’t feel they had any particular desire to have me in the picture because I was completely unknown.
C:        I move that the answer be stricken as a self-serving statement on the part of the witness, stating her own subjective feelings.
A         I am not supposed to say my subjective –
C:       Counsel will direct you. I am objecting for the purposes of the record.
A         All right.

Q         You just go right ahead.
A         Nobody talked to me. All I can say is my subjective feelings, all of them are.
Q         Now, as a result of that conversation, were some screen tests made of you?


A:        Yes, Mr, von Sternberg said, „I want you to play this part, but in order to satisfy the company, I will have to make a test of you. I will not be swayed by the test, good or bad, because in my mind you are going to play the part, but as I see that you are rather dubious that you could play this part, I will also use the test to convince you.“
Q         And after that conversation, did you make a screen test?
A         Yes.
Q         Did you make one or more than one?
A         One.
Q         Were you present at any conversations between Mr. von Sternberg and yourself or others wherein that screen test was discussed after it had been made?
A         No, I never went back to UFA after I made the screen test. I never saw the screen test.
Q         After the screen test was made, do you know of your own knowledge whether there was any discussion as to whether or not you should be hired to portray this part?
A         Yes, because I didn’t hear from them and I think my husband called up to find out what had happened after the screen test, and Mr. von Sternberg called me and he said, „Nobody wants you for the part and don’t worry because you might hear that I am making a test of Lucie

Lucie Mannheim

Manheim.“ She was a very famous actress at the State Theatre in Berlin.
„I am only doing this test because I am being asked as a courtesy by Mr. Jannings and the UFA to make a test of her for the part, and you will hear about it and I don’t want you to worry because you are going to play the part.“
Q         Was there any other conversation that Mr. von Sternberg had with anyone else of which you are aware concerning his or their reaction to the test?
Mr. C  That is objected to incompetent, irrelevant, immaterial and hearsay as far as this defendant is concerned.
E          You may answer.
A         He called me again and he said, „I have made the test and both tests are now running constantly at the UFA.“

Q         When you say „both“ —
A         Mine –
Q         I see.
A         The one he made of me and the one he made of Miss Manheim.
Q         All right,
A         „And there is a big hassle here and everybody wants Miss Manheim, and I am not going to make the picture if they insist on not having you play the part,“ because the main objection was Mr. Jannings.
Pommer again objected — would have gone along probably with Mr. von Sternberg —
MR.C  I move the answer be stricken as far as the witness‘ declaration or attitude of Mr. Pommer.

Q         Just continue.
A         Well ..
Q         You were saying probably Mr. Pommer would have objected?
A         Yes, would not have objected too strongly because he brought over Mr. von Sternberg to do the picture and he had great respect for him and would probably have succumbed, but Mr. Jannings was violent in his reaction toward me.
Q         Now —
A         He even voiced it to me the very first day I was there.
Q         Who is „he“?
A         Mr. Jannings, the way he looked at me and the way he talked to me and the way he talked about me in front of me.
Q         What did he say to you as to whether or not he wanted you for the picture, I mean Mr. Jannings?
A         He did not address me personally. He talked about me in front of me, that he was stunned that anybody could even consider me for the part,
Q         But nevertheless, you were hired for and did do the picture The Blue Angel?
A         Yes.
Q         Which was subsequently entitled The Blue Angel, is that correct?
A         Yes.

(At this point an off the record discussion was held.)

Q         Had you discussed with anyone what this picture was all about that you intended to do?
A         No, Mr. von Sternberg said, „I will tell you all about that on the set.“
Q         Had you ever seen any script or scenario before you got on the set?
A         No.
B:        Had you read the book, Professor Unrath?
A         No, he told me not to read it because the picture woud be different.


Josef von Sternberg und Marlene Dietrich

Q         When you say „he“ you mean Mr. von Sternberg?
A         Yes.
Q         Had you ever spoken to anyone at UFA about any scenario or any script?
A         No.
Q         Prior to the commencment of shooting, did anyone exhibit or deliver to you a scenario or a script?
A         Well, I can only say that I do not remember this. If anything was ground written, it might have been an outline or something like that, but no dialogue ever or any script, as we are used to having soripts in pictures.

Mr. B  Let me inject a question here, Miss Dietrich.
The names Carl Zuckmayer, Karl Vollmoller and Robert Liebman are indicated as adapters of the original German film version of The Blue Angel.
Do you recall any one of these parties ever discussing the scenario or a screen version with you during production?
A         No.
Mr. C: May I interject a question? I really don’t understand. Mr. E started the interrogation and now Mr. B is doing it. Does Mr. B represent some other party?
Mr. E  No, Mr. B is associated with me.
MR. C  He is representing the plaintiff also?
MR. E   Yes.

(Mr. B will now conduct the direct examination unless otherwise noted in the record.)

By Mr. B:
Q         Now, did any of these parties whom I have just named, to your knowledge ever appear on any of the sets during the course of production of the German film, The Blue Angel?
A         Well, that is possible, but I don’t recall it, but I can’t say no.
Q         Do any of these people —
A         There are lots of visitors on the set who wanted to see how he was making pictures.
Q         You have just indicated a moment ago that none of these parties had ever discussed any lines or dialogue with you?
A         No.
Q         Or any action or acting?
A         No.
Q         The year involved is approximately 1929, Miss Dietrich?
A         Yes.
Mr. B  I think we can assume or concede, Mr. C, that this followed shortly the advent of talking pictures.
Mr. C : Historically, I believe you are correct, for whatever it is worth, in the United States. I don’t know when talking pictures arrived in Germany, whether simultaneously or later.

Q         Well, Miss Dietrich, can you help us out on that point?
A         Yes, to my recollection, this was the very first great talking picture in Germany.
Q:       The Blue Angel?
A         Yes, but I was really not an expert on those things then.
Q         Now, you indicated earlier in a question of Mr. E’s —
A         I will tell you, Mr, von Sternberg’s picture called Docks of New York starring George Bancroft was playing at the time in Berlin.
Mr. E  That was a talkie?!
A         No, that was a silent picture, so that is why that was the turning point at that time because this was just starting to play in Berlin when he came.

Q         You have indicated earlier that it possible that there was an outline of the –
A         That is possible.
Q         — of the daily work to be done?
A         I don’t know of this, but I know I had no script to go by.
Q         You had no script with dialogue or with directions?
A         No.
Q         Or with movement or actions?
A         No.
MR.E  Let her answer that question.
A         No, I didn’t.


Josef von Sternberg und Marlene Dietrich

Q         Then please tell us, if you will, just how was your dialogue created, your lines, your action, your movements, the staging and your direction?
A         By Mr. von Sternberg.
Q         Would you give us some details? It is 1929. We have no script as we now know the script. Would you just generalize?
A         Well, he says, „You come in here and then you go here and then you say this and then you will say that and then you will pick up the powder puff and then you will go out here.“
Q         You didn’t have your outline or know about what you were going to do the next day?
A         Well, yes, you are being told what scene and what kind of costume you have to wear.
Q         Yes?
A         That you are going to work in the cabaret or you are working in your dressing room or you are working in your room. You are being told where the scene will take place, at least, yes.
Q         Now we are on the set.
A         Yes.
Q         Without identifying the set. It is 6:00, 7:00 or 8:00 o’clock in the morning and you are in the costume that you have been told about.
A         Yes.
Q         You are on the set that you were instructed to be on.
A         Yes.
Q         Now, what happens? There are 30, 50 people, technicians around, a director and other actors.
A         Yes.
Q         Tell us how the film is made in 1929, the first large, great German talking film.
A         Yes.
Q         The Blue Angel.
A         Well, the director giving instructions to everybody.
Q         Does he give you each and every line?
A         Yes.
Q         Each and every movement of your body?
A         In my case, yes.
Q         Does he give the same lines to all the other actors?
A         Yes.
Q         Who participate in the film?
A         Yes.
Q         And the same direction?
A         Yes. Not as lengthy as with me, and he always spent an hour in the morning in Mr. Jannings‘ dressing room, so when Jannings came on the set, he had already been coached by Mr. von Sternberg.
Q         If you know, did Mr, Jannings have dialogue before Mr. von Sternberg —
A         No, in the morning Mr. von Sternberg always spent an hour. We always had to wait.
Q         But you had no dialogue as such?
A         No.
Q         You had no lines?
A         No, because Mr. von Sternberg fought with Mr. Jannings, fought with him each — an hour each morning about how he wanted to play the part and how Mr. von Sternberg wanted him to play the part.
Q         So, actually, until Mr. Jannings went to the set, nobody knew —
A         Already prepared by Mr. von Sterberg each moming, an hour.
Q         Did Mr. von Sternberg arrange all of the events portrayed by you in your role in this film?
A         Yes.
Q         Did Mr. von Sternberg arrange as well all of the scenes as acted and the events as portrayed by all of the other actors appearing in this film?
Mr. C: Object to that as calling for a conclusion of the witness
Mr. E: You may answer.
A         Yes, because all we actors sat around there. We didn’t know what we were going to have to do, so naturally, when he started to tell us all, they didn’t know it before. Otherwise they would have told me.
Mr. B: Mr. Reporter, would you read back the question, the one question preceding the last one.
(The reporter read back the last part of the record.)

Q         The next question is did Mr. von Sternberg arrange all of the scenes as acted by you?
A         Yes.
Q         In your role?
A         Yes.
Q         In this film?
A         Yes.
Q         Shortly after, approximately one week after the commencement of your role in The Blue Angel, did Mr. Jannings come to you and have a discussion with you in respect to your participating and acting in this film?
A         Yes,
Mr. C  Objected to as incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial what Mr. Jannings and the witness met and discussed.

Q         Would you, please, Miss Dietrich, tell us what happened at that meeting, what Mr. Jannings said to you and what you said to Mr. Jennings?
Mr. C  Objected to as incompetent, irrelevant, immaterial and hearsay.
A         It was not a meeting. It was a scene that we were working on together which Mr. von Sternberg gave me the dialogue and told me how to act the scene.
We did the scene and Mr. Jannings took me aside because Mr. von Sternberg said, „We are doing the scene again,“ and they had to reload the cameras.
We were working then with four cameras at the time because sound could not be cut at the time, and he said to me that as we had a chance to do this scene again when they were reloaded, that he wanted to point out to me that if I played the part this way, if I followed the directions of Mr. von Sternberg as far as characterization was concerned, dialogue and reactions to his dialogue, that I would be finished in the motion picture business and nobody would ever give me a part, because it was a completely unsympathetic character and not at all the character that he had seen when he was deciding to make the picture, and that to my own good, he wanted me to rebel against Mr. von Sternberg’s directions.
And I answered him that I was doing exactly what I was being told. I didn’t know myself if it was good or bad, but I had been brought up in the theatre to follow the director and that I could not follow Mr. Jannings‘ advice.
He said to me, „Well, you will see what will happen to you and I should have known better, that you are stupid.“


Emil Jannings mit Puppe

Q         Did Mr. Jannings —
A         Argue with Mr. von Sternberg on the set about my playing the part that way, yes.
Q         And Mr. von Sternberg was writing each scene day by day on the set?
A         Well, not with paper.
Mr. C  Object to that as calling for the conclusion of the witness.
A         He would invent constantly. For instance, that black doll that is in the picture which I think is also in the new version, I am not sure.
This was a doll of mine that Mr. von Sternberg saw in my dressing room.
He told me to bring it on the set and in a scene where Mr. Jannings wakes up in my bed in the morning,he put the doll in the bed and he told Nr. Jannings to push the hand up of the doll and push the hand down, and Mr. Jannings said, „This is too idiotic. I am not going to do this.“
And Mr. von Sternberg said, „I am sorry, I should have told you I am going to put music when you do this, I am going to make this into a musical doll.“
There was another fight between him and Mr. Jannings on the set that he said, „Well, all the things that you invent constantly you should tell me about it before,“ because he felt stupid having said that because he naturally — he did the scene when he heard this gesture was meant to put on the music and put off the music.
When I did anything in private, like, for instance, something being too tight in the costume which, while talking to him, I would pull at something, he would say, „Wait a minute. Nobody goes to lunch, set up the cameras again. Now you do that.“
And I would stand there and I would say, „What?“
And he said, „What you just did there.“
And the scene was incorporated in the picture. It is the scene when I walk out of my dressing room and I turn around and I pull on my costume before leaving (indicating), and again there was a fight about this, that Jannings, which at that time saw that all these scenes he never heard about or thought about, would be incorporated in the picture.
These are the two things I remember at the moment that are visual. All the other things that were inventions and dialogue, they were all invented, maybe not invented, but told us by him. I don’t know if he had it in his head long ago or he thought of it at the moment.

Q         Referring to Mr. von Sternberg?
A         Yes.
Q         Now, there is a scene in the original version in which a door is opened and closed and music commences and it ceases commencing with the door.
A         Yes, that is ridiculous.
Q         Would you please explain.
A         Yes. You couldn’t cut sound in those days. It means when the music played outside in the cabaret side of the set, it had actually had to play — you couldn’t take it and tape it like we do today, and then put into the picture when you score the picture, so the orchestra was there at all times and had to play on signals that were given to them, meaning when I opened the door of my dressing room into the cabaret set, the orchestra started to play, and when I closed the door, the orchestra stopped playing.
Mr. von Sternberg remarked about that that was rather silly because this door was not an oak door where you couldn’t hear the music which naturally, logically, continued playing out there, but he had no other way to stop the music because the scene inside the dressing room had to be cut apart in order to build the scene in close-ups, and had the music played all the way through, he would not have been able to do this, so he had to do a lot of makeshift things forced by the technical —
Q         Inadequacies?
A         — inadequacies of the times.
Q         This was created by Mr. von Sternberg?
A         Yes. He was a very inventive man.
MR. C  I object to the question as being incompetent.
A         He remarked about it all the time. Strike it.
Mr. E  She said strike it. She is doing it for you.
A         I am explaining this because this is such a technical question, but nobody would know about this, but we constantly remarked about it and said, „This man is out of his mind,“ and we closed this door and suddenly you don’t hear this music and those cheap little tin doors because we were all stupid, we didn’t know this.

Q         Did Mr. von Sternberg design or supervise the design of your costume and wardrobe?
A         Yes, he told us exactly what to wear. When he met me, he told me I was supposed to look like Toulouse-Lautrec in the front and Felice Rops, a French painter, and told us exactly what to do.
Q :      Did Mr. von Sternberg also conceive the writing of the main theme song of this film?
Mr. C  That is objected to as incompetent and no foundation laid and calling for a conclusion of the witness as to what Mr. von Sternberg conceived.
Mr. E  What, if anything, do you know about the writing of the main theme song?
A        Lucie Manheim made a test for the part. She and I had been told to bring a naughty song for the test..
I say this every night on my show, this was a part.
As I was such an unimportant player and never thought that I would get the part, I did not bring a naughty song.

Friedrich Hollaender

Miss Lucie Manheim, who was a very famous actress and had more chance to get the part than I, did bring along a very naughty song and with it she brought the pianist to accompany her who also was the writer of this particular song. The song was called „I Have So Much Fuel In Me.“ This is the song she sang in that test.
After the test was over, Mr. von Sternberg talked to the pianist and said, „You are the composer of this song?“
And he said, „Yes.“
And he said, „I want you to write the songs for this picture, but I want you to take one line out of the song that Miss Manhein just sang. It is way down in there somewhere, and it is called ‚I am tuned in from head to foot for love,‘ and I want you to write a song with this, making this the headline of the song.“
And Mr. Hollander, Frederick Hollander wrote the song, and this became the theme song for the picture, not that we know about it when we did it, but it became famous after the picture was finished. It is called here „Falling In Love Again.“
Mr. E  Who wrote the English lyrics for that, do you know?
A         All I know, Mr. von Sternberg, because there was nobody else speaking English in Germany.

Q         I want to talk about the English and the German. Was this original film, The Blue Angel, produced in two languages at the same time?
A         Yes. When I made the contract for the film, it was said that I would also play the English version should Mr. von Sternberg consider my English good enough, and I remember there were discussions that he should know that then and there, and he said, „No, even though she can speak a little bit of English, acting in English in a foreign language is another matter, and I can only decide this after I have her on the set and have her act in the English language.“
Then it was made so that should he decide that I was good enough, then I was supposed to play the English version.
As in those days, there was no dubbing possible I remember he being asked, „Well, what do you think, then? We are on the set and you say she can’t do it.“
And Mr. von Sternberg said, „Then I will have a person sitting on the set who will speak while she is moving her mouth, doing the dubbing live,“ so to speak in our language of today.
Everybody shook their heads because this had never been done before as this was all the beginning of talkies.
Then when we had done the first dialogue scene, he then gave me the English dialogue to speak, and I spoke it and he worked with me for the whole day until I said, „I can’t do it. It is too difficult.“
And he said, „Yes, you can. I will make you do it.“
And he decided then that I should do the English version.
It was particularly difficult because he wanted the English version to be logical and he had to train everybody, the actors who had never spoken a word of English, to speak English.
Mr. Jannings spoke English because he had been in America, badly enough to explain that he was a German professor teaching English in class, and the English version naturally took much more time and work because nobody believed that he could make everybody speak English, people who had never uttered a word in English, but he did it.
Q         Miss Dietrich, other than Mr. von Sternberg, was there any party or person on the set who was bilingual and spoke both English and German?
A         Not to my knowledge.
Q         You have testified earlier that Mr. von Sternberg gave or created and gave you the lines or dialogue.
A         Yes, not only that, he created the entire character, and I have said it everywhere and it is being printed everywhere.
Q         I am referring to the German version.
A         And I am going to go to court there with this McCall people, you know, and he created everything out of his head, thin air.
Mr. C  I move the answer be stricken as a pure conclusion of the witness.

Q         Miss Dietrich, to the extent Mr. von Sternberg created anything, he did create, did he not, all of the dialogue of the German version?
Mr. C  Objected to as calling for a conclusion of the witness.
E         As far as you know.

Q         As far as you know.
A         Yes, because there was nobody else there, and he said, „Say this,“ which he hadn’t said five minutes before.
Q         He created then or he told you what to say in so far as the German dialogue was concerned?
A         Sure, like we did here in the pictures, too.
Q         When it came to the English dialogue, did he do the same ?
A         Yes. When I couldn’t say it, he said, „Let me think now. Can you say this?“
You know, difficult words, I couldn’t say the „r“ and I couldn’t say the „th“, because in German you say – it is lisping in German. It is very difficult, so he tried to find dialogue that didn’t sound ridiculous for the American here because he always said to me, „You must not sound ridiculous because the German accent in America is a comic accent. It is used by a lot of comedians to create laughter, and you cannot,“ because I kept on saying, „Why is it so important?“
And he said, „You must not be funny because if they laugh at you, you are not the character that you must be,“ and that is why he switched around the dialogue and found, you know, like if you knew a language, you can say the same thing with a different way, using different words, so he changed them on these so much that once I had learned this now in my lunch hour, and then he came and said, „No, that is no good. Say this.“
So I had to relearn the lines all the time in a foreign language which was absolutely murder, so much that I said, „I am never going to America.“
Mr. E  Did he change the story line at all from the German version?
A         That I can’t tell you.
Mr. E  To the English version?
A         From the book?

A         From the German film, is the English version and the German version of the original Blue Angel the same?
A         Yes.
Mr. C  Objected to as calling for a conclusion and not the best evidence.
A         The two works — I have seen the two works and it is not a conclusion. It is not a personal conclusion. I have seen both and I have played both.

Q         Is the English version a translation of the german version?
A         In story line, character line, yes.
Mr. E  Now, were there times when as a matter of being logical, to have these characters speak English, that the story line was somewhat changed?
A         No.

Q         Were any scenes changed, different parties speaking different lines?
A         Yes, different parties speaking different lines, yes.
Q         Explain that to us, please.
A         Well, some of those actors just couldn’t say a long enough sentence to have the scene proceed, whereupon he gave me the lines to say so that they would be said when they were necessary to explain.
Q         Can you recall any specific scene from the German version?

Kurt Gerron

A         I would have to see the picture again. I know that there were lots of changes when the owner of the place, Mr. Garon, had to further the story line in long speeches, that he very often gave them to me because Mr. Garon had difficulty with English.
Q         Then, what you are saying is that Mr. von Sternberg, in order to produce the English version —
A         Had to change constantly, yes.
Q         Change the roles of the parties?
A         Yes, because many actors also said, „I can’t do this. I can’t speak English,“ so he would make the sentence short for him and make it longer for me if something had to be said in that scene.
I wish all these people were alive. They all died in concentration camps, because they could tell you all this because we were very angry all the time, you know. We didn’t know we were making a master work there. We couldn’t understand what he was after most of the time.
Q         Did Mr.von Sternberg, to your knowledge, cut and edit the original German version and the original English version on a day-to-day basis?
A        I don’t know if he cut every night, but he cut and edited. Nobody else could have unraveled this because only in his head he knew the following why he did this scene, for instance.
Like, for instance, the scene where I turn out, going out of the door and do this gesture (indicating), anybody else would have said, „Where does this go? We don’t know where this goes,“ because there was nothing written down, so only he could put the things, all the reactions, only he knew where he wanted that reaction to
Q         Did Mr. Pommer come on the set?
A         Yes, I think he was, yes.
Q         To your knowledge, did Mr. Pommer have anything to do with the cutting and editing of this film?
A         That I cannot tell you because never in front of the actors Mr. von Sternberg allowed any discussion from any department.
The sound man was never allowed to come to an actor and say, „Will you speak louder?“
It had all got to go through him because only he knew how loud he wanted it or if he wanted it inaudible.
Q         I didn’t ask earlier, but did Mr. Pommer ever discuss your role or your way of acting or your dialogue or suggest any manner of conducting yourself in this film?
A         No.
Q         Was there any party other than Mr. von Sternberg who directed you in this role?
A         No.
Mr. E  Was there any party other than Mr. von Sternberg who ever supplied dialogue to you?
A         No.
MR. E  Did you ever see any written dialogue
A         No.
MR. B  I have no further questions.
MR. E  I have none. You may cross examine.
A         Very rarely saw any written dialogue in the American pictures I have made with him.
MR E  We are referring, of course, all the time to this Blue Angel made in Germany.
A         Yes.
MR. C  I have some questions on cross examination.


Q         Incidentally, how do you prefer to be addressed, as Miss Dietrich?
A         Yes, that is fine.
Q         Had you appeared in motion pictures prior to the time that you appeared in The Blue Angel?
A         Yes.
Q         Do you recall the titles to those pictures and the year of their production?

Das Schiff der verlorenen Menschen. 1929. R: Maurice Tourneur

A         Well, I had been in a picture, something of The Island of Lost Souls, or something that Mr. Tourneur had made.
Q         What year was that, do you remember?
A         That was in ’29, and I was so awful in this picture that I asked Mr. von Sternberg to please go and see it before he entrusted me the part.
I had played little parts in pictures and I was always terrible, irrecognizable.
Q         Do you recall the names of any of those other pictures?
A         A picture in Vienna, Cafe Electric, I think, but it has changed titles and I have only read this in the paper, in which I played a small part.
Q         Was that picture made in Vienna or was the setting in Vienna?
A         No, it was made in Vienna while I was playing in a play in Vienna,
Q         What year was that?
A         It must have been ‘28, I am not sure.
Q         Do you know who produced that?
A         No.
Q         It wasn’t a UFA picture?
A         No, it was a little picture that was made in Vienna.
Q         Was it what we know today as a short or —
A         A C production.
Q         A C production?
A         What we call today.
Q         It was a complete photoplay, though?
A         Yes.
Q         And likewise was The Island of Lost Souls a complete one?
A         Yes.
Q         I think you mentioned Mr. Tourneur —
A         Yes, was the director of that one.
Q         Who was the producer, do you know?
A         I was playing a pilot woman.
Q        Do you know who the producer of The Island of Lost Souls was?
A         No.
Q         Was it a UFA picture ?
A         No, that you can find out easy.
Q         Was The Island of Lost Souls a sound or talking picture or silent?
A         Silent.
Q         And likewise, was Cafe Electric silent?
A         Yes.
Q         Both of these were made prior to the advent of sound and talking pictures in Germany?
A         Yes.
Q         And on the Continent?
A         Yes.
Q         Now, do you recall any other pictures in which you appeared prior to The Blue Angel?

Die Frau, nach der man sich sehnt. 1928. Regie: Kurt Bernhardt

A         Oh, yes. What was it called now? Fritz Kortner was the star, I played some sort of elegant woman, but I can find that out.
Q        Do you know what year that was?
A         The Woman You Long For or something like that. That was all ’27, ’28.
Q        And do you recall the name of the producer of that picture?
A         No, I don’t even recall the name of the director, but I can find that out.
Q         Do you recall where the picture was made?
А         When it was made?
Q         Where.
A         Where? That was in Berlin.
Q         And that also was a silent picture?
A         Yes
Q         Therefore, you didn’t speak any lines in any of these pictures, did you?
A         No.
Q         And of course you had no script showing dialogue?
A         Yes.
Q         Oh, you did?
A         Yes, you do like this (indicating). You start and then the thing comes —
Q         You did make the movement with your lips indicating you were speaking?
A         Yes.
Q         So you had a script for each of those pictures?
A         Yes.
Q         Each of the three that we have already mentioned?
A         Yes.
Q         And you did memorize lines?
A         Yes
Q         And you spoke them, but not audibly?
A         They were cut out later. No, you spoke loudly.
Q         You did speak them vocally?
A         Yes, and then they cut just when they do like this, you know, and come back to you and the written word, you know (indicating), but it doesn’t matter how you say it.
Q         Now, during all this time, that is between 1927 and 1929, you were appearing on the stage and shows?
A         Yes.
Q         Were they what you call dramatic productions?
A         Yes.
Q         Or skits?
A         No, plays by Reinhardt.
Q         Max Reinhardt’s plays?
A         He had four theatres, and another producer, Barnowsky, and I had played very often one line in the first act of one play and took the bus to the next theatre and played a line in the second act of another play and a third in another play which was called The Trafficking. This was all to get used to the theatre, you know.
In one scene I said, „The horses aresaddled.“ In the next one I said, „Here is a letter for you, Madame.“
Q         How many years had you spent on the stage prior to appearing in Berlin?
A         I was in the Reinhardt school and after we finished the school, we then were put in these kind of things to get used to speaking out loudly.
This was 1924, ’25, until finally I had a part in a real production where Mr.von Sternberg saw me, but I also only had one line and there I played an American heiress, and that is where I spoke English, and this is where Mr. von Sternberg heard that I could speak English and that is where the thought came maybe I could do the English version.
Q         Do I understand correctly from what you said that you began the study of dramatics in the year 1914?
A         1924.
Q         1924?
A         Yes.
Q         And —
A         At the Reinhardt School.
Q         You went to the Max Reinhardt Theatrical School?
A         Yes.
Q         Does that compare with what we know as the Pasadena Playhouse here in California?
A         No. Reinhardt was the greatest producer of Europe.
Q         I recall who Max Reinhardt was, but I am talking about the school.
A         I don’t know of the school in Pasadena.
Q         Well, the one in Germany —
A         I can’t compare it. I don’t know the one in Pasadena. It was a school that was situated in one of his theatres.‘
Q         Did you attend that school regularly from 1924 on?
A         No, not regularly.
Q         To 1927?
A         I had objections from my family, and then I went back and forth and finally I got little parts, still from the school.
Q         Would that be as early as 1924?
A         Yes.
Q         That you started getting bit parts in plays ?
A         Yes, but they were not real bit parts. They were still part of the school. We were not hired as an actress yet.
Q         But you did appear in the cast and on stage? Yes. And that continued down to 1927?
A         Yes.
Q         And on through to ’29?
A         Yes.
Q         And in the meantime —
A         And then I went to Vienna and played a small part in the production of „Broadway,“ the American play.
Q         The American play entitled „Broadway“?
A         Yes.
Q         Now, you state you had never met Mr, von Sternberg prior to the time that he sent for you to come to the UFA offices?
A         Yes.
Q         Was that a letter asking you to come ?
A         No, a phone call.
Q         A phone call?
A         Yes, from his assistant, I guess.
Q         Do you know who his assistant was?
A         No, I don’t. I mean the UFA called. When I came home, I heard UFA had called and I should come to the office and Mr. von Sternberg at the UFA.
Q         I believe you already testified that it was in the papers that Mr. von Sternberg was there to make the picture,
A         Make a picture with Mr. Jannings, yes.
Q         With Mr. Jannings!
A         Yes.
Q         Did any of the publicity that you saw in the papers or elsewhere indicate —
A         Yes, said it had something to do with Professos Unrath. It was in the paper.
Q         Did it further state the picture was to be based on the story by Heinrich Mann?
A         Yes.
Q         Do you recall anything else the newspapers published in that connection?
A         No, that was all.
Q         Do you also recall that the paper stated that Mr. von Sternberg was in Europe for a purpose of making a picture treating the Russian character Rasputin
A         No.
Q         Did Mr. von Sternberg tell you that is why he came to Germany?
A         Never.
Q         You never heard of that?
A         No. Rasputin? No. We read — also Mr. Jannings said — asked for him to come.
Q         To Germany?
A         Yes, to make the picture with him. That is why I — he might have wanted to do Rasputin with him, that I don’t know.
Q         You don’t know anything about that?
A         No, nothing about Rasputin. All we knew, he was going to come make a picture with Mr. Jannings and in connection with Professor Unrath because, I will tell you my assumption must be correct because I was sitting there and he talking to me, I was trying to find what kind of a part would have been in Professor Unrath for me.
If there would have been Rasputin, it would have been much more possible I would have been a bit part in a big production.
Q         Please understand me, I am not saying there is any connection between The Blue Angel and Rasputin.
A         No, but my memory that far back, it is difficult, but it stands to reason I would not have been so terribly puzzled because if you have Rasputin, there might be six wonen in with him.

(At this point an off the record discussion was held.)

Q         Now may we go back on the record here.
A         Yes.
Q         I don’t recall at what point the record ceased here. Just a moment, please. Let me make one statement. At what point was the witness when the reporter ran out of paper? Can we pick it up?

(The reporter read back the last part of the record.)

Q         I think we can pass to another topic now.
What role did you play in the picture The Blue Angel?
A         The role of a harbor town low nightclub entertainer.
Q         Was the individual given a name in the picture?
A         Yes, Lola.
Q         (Spelling) L-o-l-a?
A         Yes.
Q         I belleve it is sometimes repeated Lola Lola.
A         Yes, Lola Lola.
Q         And that was a very minor part in the picture, was it?
A         No.
Q         Perhaps I misunderstood. I thought you said you were not starred in the picture.
A         I was not starred, but the part was not minor. I was not starred because I was so unknown, and when I made the contract, I asked about that and I asked about where my name would be, and I was told, „Also ran,“ not above the title, not below the title, just when the cast is mentioned, amongst everybody else.

Q         Did Mr. von Sternberg tell you that?
A         No.
Q         Who did?
A         The people I think who made the contract.
Q         Did Mr. Pommer tell you that?
A         I think so.
Q         Mr. Erick Pommer?
A         I think so, he might have, although I don’t think I dared to ask him that. I must have asked that to some underling.
Q         You were acquainted with Mr. Erick Pomer at the time you made the contract?
A         No, I met him there.
Q         That is what I mean.
A         Yes.
Q         You were acquainted with him at that time?
A         Yes.
Q         And you understood at that time that Mr, Erick Pommer was known as the producer of the picture The Blue Angel, didn’t you?
A         Yes.
Q         Was anyone else known as co-producer or assistant producer?
A         Not that I know.
Q         Do you know the titles or any other persons attached to the production of The Blue Angel?
A         No.
Q         Counsel has called to your attention the names of Zuckermayer —
A         Zuckermayer.
Q         Yes. Were you acquainted with him?
A         No.
Q         Were you acquainted with Mr. Liebman?
A         It is possible that I had known him before because he wrote some lyrics of songs and I cannot say that I had not met him before through friends.
Q         But you have no definite recollection of meeting him in connection with The Blue Angel?
A         No, if it is possible he said I did, I could not deny that.
Q         And with respect to Mr. Vollmoller, did you know him?
A         No.

Q         Did you see any reference to his name as being one of the authors of the screenplay or adapters, as counsel has defined them?
A         No, I must have seen it later but not in the beginning.
Q         You don’t recall having heard his name at the time you were working on the set
A         No.
Q         And consequently, you didn’t meet him at that time?
A         I didn’t ever meet him in any office. He might have been on the set to visit.
Q         I am not trying to fix it to any office meeting. Did you meet him in any place in Berlin?
Mr. E: That you remember,
A         Yes, he was a friend of Mr. von Sternberg’s later on, I think. I think I met him at parties, I think so, yes.

Q         Now, did you meet the other two gentlemen at parties at or about that time?
A         Mr. Liebman, I am sure I did later, and in Austria, too,
Q         What about Mr. Zuckmayaer
A         I met him, too, later, many years later.
Q         Many years later?
A         That I know of, but he might have been on the set and I might have said, „Hello.“ .
Q         For the present I am confining myself – –
A         As a writer, somebody said, „He is the writer,“ no.
Q         Just listen to my question, please. I am trying to confine myself and ask you to do likewise, to the year 1929 when you were working on The Blue Angel.
A         As I told you, I do not recollect, but it is possible. You see, in order to make this clear to you, when you are an important player and anybody comes to the set, everybody says, „Meet so and so, meet so and so and so and so,“ but when you are so completely unknow and an unknown entity as I was, nobody bothered to introduce people to me.
It sounds strange in America here. The customs are quite different.
Q         Now, in connection with the activities on the set, I believe you testified that Mr. von Sternberg tolerated no one speaking to members of the cast other than himself, is that correct?
A         No, about delivery sound-wise or turning into a light, he didn’t allow the cameraman to come and say, „Look, when you say this line, please don’t turn your nose too far to the left because I get a back light on your nose,“ or the soundman coming and saying, „Can you give me a little bit more voice here?“.
He would not have his players disturbed by any technical criticism from the technical staff. He was the only one to tell us either to raise the voice, lower the voice, turn the face or not.
Q         Well, did you observe on the set that he would confer or discuss with other persons —
A         No.
Q.        — certain activities?
A         No, he would tell them what to do. They were all in a new medium,
Q         I believe you misunderstood my question.
MR. E: I think she understood it.
MR. C: May I reframe my question, please, and see whether she understood it.

Q         I am not inquiring as to discussions between Mr. von Sternberg and yourself and other members of the case. I am inquiring whether you observed that Mr. von Sternberg had conversations with staff people.
A         That is what I understood. He would tell the staff people what to do because they would ask him as it was for them quite a new medium, and Mr. von Sternberg told them how to overcome difficulties that they were absolutely unable to overcome as they had no previous chance to find out about it.
Q         Now, in view of that last answer, there were conversations between Mr. von Sternberg and staff people, weren’t there?
A         Yes, constantly.
Q         Can you identify any of these members of the staff?
A         No.
Q         You don’t recall their names at this time?
A         I don’t recall their names at all. The cameraman —
Q         I am not inquiring as to the technical people.
A         The cast?
Q         No, the other people of the staff, not the cameraman or not the grips or the light men.
A         Then who?
Q         The assistant director or assistant producer.
A         Assistant producer, there was nobody. Script people, there was nobody. Assistant director, I do not recall his name.
Q         There was an assistant director?
A         Yes, he has to.
Q         Was there more than one?
A         No, I don’t think so. A guy who knocks on the door and says, „Come on the set.“ I don’t know his name.
Q         Have you discussed this matter with Mr. von Sternberg since this lawsuit was started?
A         Mr. von Sternberg called me in Lake Tahoe and said he was leaving and to please get in touch with Mr. E. and answer the questions that he had for me.
Q         When was that that he got in touch with you?
A         It must have been — I was two weeks in Tahoe. It must have been ten days ago.
Q         And you and he discussed what had occurred back in the year 1929 when you were making this picture?
A         No, nothing.
Q         He told you to get in touch with Mr. E., the attorney?
A         Yes, and answer the questions.
Q         Where do you reside at the present time?
A         993 Park Avenue, New York.
Q         That is your permanent address?
A         Yes.
Q         Have you any immediate plans for leaving the City of Los Angeles?
A         Yes, I am leaving on Thursday night. I am staying in New York until the 1st of April and then I go to Europe to do a tour until the end of June. As it looks now, it might be extended.
Q         When you say on a tour, is that a theatrical appearance?
A         Yes.
Q         In what connection?
A         Personal appearances.
Q         It isn’t in connection with any play?
A         No.
Q         It is much on the order of your appearances at Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas and those places?
A         Yes.
Q         And you think you will be back about the end of June?
Mr. E   Back where?
Mr. C   In the United States.
А          Yes, it looks like it now, but we might extend.

BY MR. C.:
Q         Do you recall the names of any other people at UFA who to your personal knowledge had anything to do with the production of The Blue Angel?
A         No.
Q         You have mentioned, or we have mentioned here Mr. Zuckmayer and Mr. Liebman and also Mr. Erick Pommer. Other than those names, you know of no one connected with the picture?
A         No.
Q         Except Mr. von Sternberg and Emil Jannings, is that right?
A         Mr. Jannings had nothing to do with the production of the picture.
Q         I am not inquiring what he had to do, but he did appear as the lead character.
A         Yes, but production is stili different because if he had anything to do with the production, I wouldn’t have played the part like that because he was violent.
Q         Well, in that connection, were you aware of any basis for the attitude that Mr. Jannings displayed towards you?
A         Yes.
Q         What was it?
A         Typical actor reaction. If a woman that he is so attached to in this part, giving up his entire life and standing, has no good side to her and is nothing but an out and out horrible bitch, the vanity of the actor reacts against that, because he does not want to be portrayed that he can fall for somebody that is only low. He is searching for something that would give a reason that he could love this woman. That is the reason.
Q         Would it be fair to state that he resented the role or the counterfoil?
A         Yes, that this woman was never ever showing any feeling for him.
Q         I believe you have also stated, or at least I gained the impression there was considerable animosity or ill will between Mr. von Sternberg and Mr. Jannings. Do you know the basis for that?
A         Yes, because Mr. Jannings objected to every scene that showed him the man without any will power, without any — completely given over to this horrible creature, and he tried to in every scene, even in my intonation, to soften it up, and this was the constant fight between Mr. von Sternberg and him, because Mr. von Sternberg insisted that the character that I portrayed to stay as he had conceived it, which had nothing to do with the book, was nothing, and Jannings, you can understand if a great star like Jannings picks this book to make a picture and has the director to come over to make it, he thinks this is going to be made the way he wants it, that stands to reason, and suddenly he sees a character emerge in there that is not at all what he thought.
Q         Now, in 1929, Emil Jannings was recognized as the great theatrical start, wasn’t he?
A         Great star.
Q         Do I correctly understand you to say that every morning there would be a one-hour session —
A         One-hour session?
Q                    Just let me finish my question, please. .
— between Mr. Jannings and Mr. von Sternberg in which they would quarrel as to how the next scene or the scenes of that day would be shot? ‚
A Yes.
Q         Do you know whether Mr. Jannings‘ views ever prevailed?
A         No.
Q         Never?
A         No, we always had fun when he was coming out there and Jannings cried bitter tears, rolled on the floor. Everybody would report, „He is now rolling on the floor crying.“
Q         Are you speaking literally when you say that?
A         Crying and rolling on the floor. This was the talk of the studio, the talk of the studio. Mr. von Sternberg is much too humble to tell you this.
Q         Your contract to appear in The Blue Angel, was that made directly with UFA?
A         Yes.
Q         And UFA is the letter abbreviations for — what is it?
Mr. B: If you know.
A         No, it was UFA —
MR. C: I am only asking what you know.
A         It was UFA. It must have been Universal Film (spelling) A-k-t-i-e-n-g-e-s-e-l-l-s-c-h-a-f-t. It means company, that means company that has stock. BY MR. C:
Q         Well, now, we will Anglicize it and call it Universal Film Company.
A         Fine.
Q         Not the one we know in America, but the German company.
A         I also had an option — they also had an option on me.
Q         Just wait for my question. We will also refer to it as UFA.
A         Yes.
Q         That was the first contract you had with UFA was in connection with the picture The Blue Angel, is that right?
A         Yes.
Q         And you were signed up just to perform in that picture?
A         Yes, with an option.
Q         With an option?
A         Yes.
Q         Was the option exercised after the making of The „Blue Angel?
A         No.
Q         It was not?
A         No. They also thought I was lousy.
Q         Well, I am not trying to embarrass you by asking you that.
A         It is true. They thought I was so bad that they didn’t pick up their cheap option, but Mr. von Sternber knew better.
Q         Now, when you made that contract, do you know with whom you dealt at UFA?
A         No, but it must have been the department that makes contracts.
Q         You do recall going to the UFA’s offices and signing the papers?
A         Yes.
Q         Did you have an agent at that time?
A         No, no.
Q         I believe you did mention your husband calling Mr. von Sternberg or someone. Did he serve as your intermediary?
A         He took some telephone calls, I think.
Q         I beg your pardon?
A         He took some telephone calls.
Q         And what was your husband’s name?
А         Rudolf Sieber.
Mr. C  That is all.

© Die Marlene Dietrich Collection GmbH. Published by permission.

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