1931: Adlon Berlin: Chaplin meets Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich (sitting) and Charlie Chaplin (standing next to her) at the Adlon, Berlin.
In 1931, this photograph was taken at the lobby of the Hotel Adlon in Berlin. The “tramp” Charlie Chalpin, the world wide know super star of the silver screen had come to Berlin to promote his latest movie “City Lights”. He travelled the continent and spent some days in Berlin.The more or less fascinating thing about this photograph was that it was taken without any obvious reason. Chaplin never worked with Dietrich, they didn’t have an affair, there is no common denominator in this picture.
When Chapling met Dietrich in Berlin for a casual meeting at the lobby of the Adlon Hotel, she was just embarking on her Hollywood carreer. In 1929, Dietrich had landed the breakthrough role of Lola. Lola was a cabaret singer who causes the downfall of a hitherto respected schoolmaster in UFA’s production, The Blue Angel (1930). The film was directed by Josef von Sternberg, who thereafter took credit for having “discovered” Dietrich. The film is also noteworthy for having introduced Dietrich’s signature song “Falling in Love Again”.
On the strength of The Blue Angel’s international success, and with encouragement and promotion from von Sternberg, who was already established in Hollywood, Dietrich then moved to the U.S. on contract to Paramount Pictures. The studio sought to market Dietrich as a German answer to MGM‘s Swedish sensation, Greta Garbo. Her first American film, Morocco, directed by von Sternberg, earned Dietrich her only Oscar nomination. However, at the time she knew very little English and so spoke her lines phonetically.
Dietrich’s most lasting contribution to film history was as the star of a series of six films directed by von Sternberg at Paramount between 1930 and 1935: Morocco, Dishonored, Shanghai Express, Blonde Venus, The Scarlet Empress, and The Devil is a Woman.
Charles Chaplin, on the other hand, had at that time already made some 80 movies. When he toured the world, he always staed at the most famous hotels. At The Peninsula in Hong Kong, at Le Royal in Phnom Penh, at the Metropole in Hanoi and of course at the Adlon in Berlin. From Berlin he travelled to Vienna, where he stayed at the Imperial. He arrived on 17 March in Vienna.
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