16 user 12 critic

Marlene (1984)

Retrospective on the career of enigmatic screen diva Marlene Dietrich.


Maximilian Schell
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Annie Albers Annie Albers ... Self
Marlene Dietrich ... Self (voice)
Bernard Hall Bernard Hall ... Self
Maximilian Schell ... Self
Marta Rakosnik Marta Rakosnik ... Self
Patricia Schell Patricia Schell ... Self
Ivana Spinell Ivana Spinell ... Self
William von Stranz William von Stranz ... Self
Learn more

More Like This 

Marlene (2000)
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

The movie follows the life and personality of the famous actress Marlene Dietrich.

Director: Joseph Vilsmaier
Stars: Katja Flint, Hans Werner Meyer, Herbert Knaup
Documentary | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A gentle portrait by the famous German-Swiss-Austrian Hollywood actor Maximilian Schell about his no less famous sister Maria.

Director: Maximilian Schell
Stars: Maria Schell, Maximilian Schell, Gerhard Hannak
Blonde Venus (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A cabaret singer takes up with a millionaire to pay for her gravely ill husband's operation.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant, Herbert Marshall
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Fleeing her cruel uncle and an arranged marriage Susan Lenox falls in love with a kind stranger but circumstances force her to become a woman of easy virtue.

Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Stars: Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Jean Hersholt
Cry Terror! (1958)
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Duped by former army pal Paul Hoplin into building a time-bomb, New York shop owner Jim Molner and his family become hostages of Hoplin who uses bomb-threats to extort money from airlines.

Director: Andrew L. Stone
Stars: James Mason, Rod Steiger, Inger Stevens
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

When a German businessman causes a car accident with deadly consequences, the papers start digging into his past to find scandals. What they find causes him to reevaluate his own past during WW2 when he was in Greece.

Director: Maximilian Schell
Stars: Gustav Rudolf Sellner, Peter Hall, Maximilian Schell
Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A woman rediscovers a former lover during a dangerous train ride to Shanghai.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Clive Brook, Anna May Wong
Marlene (2020)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Frank is a contract killer working for a large Styrian crime syndicate. When he is given the task of abducting a girl named Marlene and delivering her to the syndicate, everything changes ... See full summary »

Director: Stefan Müller
Stars: Franz Bischof, Siruan Darbandi, Thomas Geiger
First Love (1970)
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Based on Ivan Turgeyev's novella, Erste Liebe is about two young lovers in czarist Russia. One is a 21-year-old woman, the other a young man of sixteen. Things take a tragic turn as the ... See full summary »

Director: Maximilian Schell
Stars: John Moulder-Brown, Dominique Sanda, Maximilian Schell
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An elderly professor's ordered life spins dangerously out of control when he falls for a nightclub singer.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich, Kurt Gerron
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

In order to adopt an abandoned baby, an actress arranges a marriage of convenience with a doctor.

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Fred MacMurray, Aline MacMahon
Opening Night (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An actress suffers an emotional uproar in her personal life after a fan dies trying to see her.

Director: John Cassavetes
Stars: Gena Rowlands, John Cassavetes, Ben Gazzara


Acclaimed, award-winning filmmaker Maximillian Schell reconstructs the life and career of the enigmatic film diva. This is accomplished through use of archival footage and commentary from the actress recorded at her home. Schell's job was complicated by the aging actresses's stipulation that her face not be photographed directly. Written by duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An astonishing visit


Unrated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Director Maximilian Schell got Marlene Dietrich to agree to appear in this documentary only on the stipulation that she not be photographed as she looked at the time. Instead, we only hear her in interviews. See more »


The documentary states that "Dietrich" was the maiden name of Marlene's mother. This is completely untrue. Wilhelmina Dietrich was born Wilhelmina Felsing. Dietrich was the name of Marlene's biological father, Louis Dietrich, after whose death Wilhelmina married Eduard von Losch, who thereby became Marlene's stepfather. See more »


Marlene Dietrich: I wasn't erotic. I was nothing.
See more »


References Rancho Notorious (1952) See more »

User Reviews

Movie Icon Unfolds Her Phenomenon, Human Phenomenon to Us
4 December 2011 | by marcin_kukuczkaSee all my reviews

"You won't believe it but the lady is extremely funny" (Maximilian Schell on Marlene Dietrich)

September 1982, the Paris apartment of Marlene Dietrich...contracted for "40 hours of talking," the 81 year-old movie star at last agreed to take part in the documentary about her phenomenon. Mixed feelings, various expectations, surprises or disappointments: contradictory emotions turn up in viewers of this! Ms Dietrich reluctantly talks to Maximilian Schell, the most successful actor of German background in Hollywood. The two know each other thanks to their collaboration in the historic JUDGEMENT OF NUREMBERG 21 years earlier under the direction of Billy Wilder. Both became the expiating conscience for the post war period in motion picture industry. And both Marlene and Maximilian know that. Yet, after all these years, what pays off is getting to know the legendary movie star and encourage her to talk about MARLENE naturally. At this point she is too modest, aging, reclusive, very much to the point in her answers and too practical to praise her own heyday. Just talk. However, it appears that this little may appear too much for a great movie star. If people expect Ms Dietrich to reveal much of herself, they had better put aside this illusion. Nevertheless, among many of the documentaries, MARLENE stands on its own being a must see for her fans. Why?

Because of its wonderfully specific style! As a matter of fact, all the aspects that have been criticized about the movie are its main pluses. Critical viewers are usually too much closed within the world of 'clear, linear presentation.' When something sophisticated comes, they tend to misinterpret. Soon we realize that it is not a conventional documentary about a celebrity but an absorbing chain of interaction, sometimes contradictory, impolite, absurd, quarrelsome interaction seemingly unendurable for an ordinary 'watcher.' It is all like a puzzle of hardly any information and viewers may easily be confused where the talks lead us. But isn't every human being a sort of puzzle which may only be harmed by 'conventions?'

Considering Marlene's undeniably strong personality, along with the director Maximilian Schell, we try to figure out the personality, the phenomenon of the silver screen star who obstinately does not let anyone into her private life which has always been, as she puts it, 'completely separated from her professional life.'

This time, she deliberately fails to do what the director says. The fact we do not see their faces but only hear their voices supplies us with inevitable imagination and empathy. To a greater extent, we are with Mr. Schell whose pursuits and patience influence us and make us look forward to the climactic encounter with the star's personality. Despite its chaotic moments and highly unconventional style of a documentary, the whole puzzle becomes meaningful only with the patience of the director and the patience of the viewers. Therefore, MARLENE meets such radical and extreme impressions. Here Ms Dietrich is hardly clear to understand, a hardly likable creature who smiles at everyone, accepts every view and nods like a politically correct 'parrot' She is not 'exciting' forget it! (that is not what she was contracted to be). She is honest about the hard work that the 'snotty kid' inevitably needed for the success; she is no dreamer with sentimental, 'kitschy' feelings; she is not fond of past; she is no 'amateur improviser' but a very practical woman who seems to have known the business as hardly anyone has. Most importantly, she is herself at the grave of her career and the twilight of her life...still before... revealing to us the timelessly high standards in art and style.

That is why, Schell's MARLENE being least conventional makes it a documentary she truly deserved (paradoxically so reluctant from her side). But let me highlight one more thing that appears of highest importance when you see this documentary. That is Ms Dietrich's striking modesty and practical attitude when she reacts to Schell's 'comments' on her films and certain scenes.

Alfred Hitchcock, having worked with Marlene Dietrich on his STAGE FRIGHT, said a very simple, yet an extremely meaning sentence about her: "She is a professional." Here lies the key to understanding her persona. Although she is sometimes so pretentious while talking to Mr. Schell, her ideas are deeply rooted in her very professional attitude. She is not happy about being shown the things she had done. Consider her notes on certain people she had collaborated with, in particular Orson Welles, Burt Bacharach, Fritz Lang and, foremost, Josef Von Sternberg. Moreover, her 'interpretation' of the scenes she had played, including the ones in MOROCCO, DISHONEST and THE SCARLETT EMPRESS are purely constructive and objective with the healthy distance and criticism. With this true professionalism comes her modesty: "I was an actress. I made films. Period." Elsewhere, she denies her sex appeal and erotic magnetism evoked in certain films. Enigmatic?...Complexed?....Reclusive?....Sad? ....

"...I meant no harm!" We meant no harm! Our curiosity has led us all to a dangerous spot, to the encounter with melancholy and emotions. Nevertheless, Ferdiand Freiligrath's poem allows us all for a genuine tear, something all human beings, no matter if great cinema stars or simple viewers, deserve. A moment of Human Phenomenon for humans who should 'love as long as love they can.'

No 'blind idolatry' but a very realistic glimpse of Marlene who had her significant moment in the cinema history and won world acclaim. 8/10

9 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 16 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.



West Germany


English | German | French

Release Date:

2 March 1984 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Lähikuvassa Marlene Dietrich See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$14,490, 9 November 1986

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed