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Art Director Series: BLONDE VENUS


Sunday, April 27 – 5:30 PM

Art Director Series: Tribute to Wiard Ihnen.

*Note: The Cinematheque calendar accidentally went to print with the wrong showtime. The showtime listed here is the correct one.

Born in 1897 in New Jersey, Wiard Ihnen studied architecture at Columbia, Paris Ecole des Beaux Arts and under his father, Henry S. Ihnen. Wiard designed manor houses in New Jersey and Pelham Manor in NY. He entered into films in 1919. Wiard married Edith Head, the industry’s top costume designer whom he met while they both were working on Cradle Song; both have assembled an impressive array of Academy Awards. Ihnen has designed and built set s for Goulding, Preminger, Dupont, Lang, Leisen, Hathaway, McCarey, Ford, Mamoulian, Lubitsch, Walsh King, Dorothy Arzner, Cromwell, Von Sternberg and a dozen other directors of note. His is a staggering list of major credits on important and beautifully designed films including If I HAD A MILLION (1932), SHANGHAI EXPRESS (1932, DUCK SOUP (1933), STAGECOACH (1939), TOMORROW IS FOREVER (1946), KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE (1950), ONLY THE VALIANT (1951), THE INDIAN FIGHTER (1955).

BLONDE VENUS, 1932, Universal, 93 min. Dir. Josef Von Sternberg. Marlene Dietrich is Helen, a former nightclub entertainer married to scientist Herbert Marshall. Their idyllic family life is shattered when he becomes disabled and she must return to the stage to support him and their son (Dickie Moore). Enter millionaire Cary Grant, a man who will lavish any amount of money on what (or who) he wants. Dietrich is luminously hypnotic here, whether swimming nude or singing "Hot Voodoo" in a gorilla suit! One of the best of the Von Sternberg/Dietrich collaborations, milking every bit of charisma from its two gorgeous stars and miraculously steering the high-voltage melodramatics into poignant revelation by the last frame. "The Paris cabaret in Blonde Venus, A bizarre collaboration between Sternberg and designer Wiard Ihnen... the baroque extravagance of her(Marlene Dietrich’s) number... a figure in glittering white tailcoat reviewing with Lesbian arrogance a group of veiled beauties, strolling as she sings among leaning gothic arches, crouching monsters and nude female torsos." – John Baxter, The Cinema of Josef von Sternberg.

Discussion following with production designers Bob Boyle, J. Michael Riva and other guests.



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