On the strength of The Blue Angel’s international success that we saw last week, Marlene was given a chance for a crack in Hollywood. Her first film there was Morocco, a 1930’s romantic drama that she shared with Gary Cooper and Adolphe Menjou who had served as a captain in the US Army ambulance service during the war. Morocco was nominated for four Academy Awards and won the National Board of Review ‘Top Ten Films’ award while Marlene was nominated but did not win the Best Actress award. In 1992, Morocco was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. With Paramount’s Josef von Sternberg at the helm Marlene starred in six more films between 1930 and 1935.
Behind all this Marlene was also living a life of her own. Sternberg had welcomed her with many gifts – including a green Rolls-Royce Phantom II that appeared in ‘Morocco’ as well as acting as her own transport! She was also beginning to select her own lovers – with von Sternberg probably being the first. It is said that Marlene juggled her lovers with the skill of a practical joker. At dawn her ‘visitor’ would sneak out of whatever rented Hollywood mansion she was living in at the time and then go back and ring the front doorbell as a polite visitor and sit down with Marlene to a breakfast of Scrambled Eggs!
This connection with von Sternberg could not last and their last two films – ‘The Scarlet Empress’ in 1934 and ‘The Devil is a Woman’ in 1935 – were the most stylized of their works together but also the lowest grossing films. Later in her life Marlene was to remark that she had been her most beautiful in ‘The Devil is a Woman’.