Splendid English version of a German original [released earlier the same year]. It’s Emil Jannings’ first talker with his name over the title and Marlene Dietrich’s underneath.
It’s a standout picture along typical UFA lines – meaning that the story [from the novel Professor Unrath by Heinrich Mann] is heavy, tends to drag and holds up more on the strength of the two principals than anything else.
Dietrich, as a cabaret girl of liberal morals with those Continental soubret costumes of much stocking, bare limb and garters, is an eyeful. She seems a bit timid as regard the dialog. This is not so when she sings. One tune carries a plaintive melody which has a tendency to linger, and Dietrich sings it better in English than in German.
Dietrich’s final rendition of the main song astride a chair, as she tosses it with almost a sneer on her face at the low-brow mob in the sailors’ dive, is something of a classic.
Emil Jannings gives a fine characterization of the circumspect school teacher who falls completely for the cabaret singer whom his students have been nightly sneaking away to see. He descends to become the pantomimic clown assistant of the magician-manager of the show, with the mimicking of a rooster as his comedy punch.
Josef von Sternberg, directing, stretches the picture beyond its limit but shows high judgment in handling the dialog.