BU Film School

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

FT 540 Reading: The Blue Angel

Screenplay info
Written by: Carl Zuckmayer, Karl Vollmöller, Heinrich Mann, and Robert Liebmann (Josef von Sternberg uncredited) -- based on Heinrich Mann's novel "Professor Unrath"
Film info: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0020697

Synopsis
Lola is introduced via a poster on wall (which a woman clumsily imitates). Dr. Rath is introduced, going through his daily routine, a series of precise movements. He is very meticulous, everything is in its place.

Rath goes to school, where one pupil is drawing on Rath's schoolbook (transforming Rath into Unrath). Only Angst really respects Rath. Rath makes Angst erase drawing on label. Rath makes Ertzum put pencil between his mouth to pronounce "the" instead of "ze". Rath catches Lohmann with photo of Lola.

On the way out, Ertzum trips Angst. As he falls, photos of Lola slip out of his book. When Rath confronts Angst (after arriving at Rath's apartment), Angst insists they were planted. The other students hate him because he won't go to the Blue Angel. After the student leaves, Rath looks at the photos, blows on one (to reveal thighs) as Lohmann was doing in class.

Introduction of the Blue Angel club. Lola, looking disinterested, is singing. Behind her, women drink beer. Cardboard angel is part of set. (Shows it's a pretty low dive.) During a change, the three boys (Ertzum, Lohmann, Goldstaub) watch Lola put on makeup.

Rath enters, and slowly makes his way down into the theater, getting caught by one of the nets (foreshadowing). The boys are now at the bar. Lohmann, Ertzum spot him and run, but Goldstaub does not. Rath spots him, and pursues.

Goldstaub runs into Lola's dressing room (hiding behind the screen). Rath goes in there. He's very uneasy. He confronts Lola about corrupting his pupils. She acts seductively. Rath starts to leave, but girls complain that he's blocking the hallway, and the clown pushes him back inside. Lola take his hat. Lola slowly undresses, going upstairs and dropping her briefs from there. Rath takes the briefs off his shoulder, tries to fold them, then puts htem down. Goldstaub takes the briefs and sneaks them into Rath's coat pocket. The bell rings for Lola. Kiepert, the troupe manager, enters. At first he's annoyed at Lola, but greets Rath with enthused respect. Lola leaves to go onstage, Kiepert says he could fix Rath and Lola up. Rath confronts him about the pupils. Stepping back, he trods on Goldstaub, who flees. Rath chases him out.

The next morning, Rath is in his apartment. He looks for his hat, pulls something out of his pocket. They're Lola's briefs. Rath still goes through his morning routine (picking a different hat, which surprises the maid), then goes to school. Lohmann, Goldstaub and Ertzum wait to be confronted, are surprised when he doesn't. Rath gazes at Angst, who's uneasy. (Angst had also been beaten up in the night.)

That night, Lohmann, Goldstaub and Ertzum are back at the Blue Angel. They pay Kiepert for continued access; he says this'll be the last time. They notice Rath is coming, and are shepherded through a trap door in Lola's room.

Rath comes. Embarassed, he proffers briefs to Lola. She again acts seductively. The proprietor of the theater brings a captain (sailor), who makes drunken overtures to Lola. Rath calls him a procurer and throws him out. Captain, enraged, wanders out onto stage and calls for the police. Rath is sent into the trapdoor. A policeman come, and all seems well. Then Rath, who has noticed the boys down below, yells at them. The policeman discovers the trapdoor, and all four are brought up. The policeman recognizes Rath (who wants to press charges against the boys), and takes the captain away.

Rath confronts the students -- what do you come here for? One answers, same thing as you! Rath slaps him, and the boys flee. Rath starts to go after them, but starts having chest pains. Kiepert puts Rath in a private seat (balcony), and he's announced as that night's guest of honor. Rath is both embarassed and pleased. Lola sings "Falling in Love Again," camera alternates between shots of her singing and Rath's reactions.

The maid, as usual, starts her part of Rath's routine, but notices to her surprise that his coat and hat aren't there. Rath wakes up in Lola's bedroom. He's shy, embarrassed, lovesick ... and, as he realizes with a start, late for school. When he gets there, he discovers drawings of him (Unrath) and Lola on the board. The headmaster, alerted by the noise, discovers Rath yelling at his pupils, who are paying absolutely no attention. He sends them out, then confronts Rath. Rath says he wants to marry Lola, so headmaster lets him go.

The performers are packing. Rath brings Lola flowers, and proposes. At the wedding, Kiepert performs tricks, producing eggs from under Rath's nose. Rath, playing along, suddenly crows.

Rath helps Lola pack. He picks up photos, says she shouldn't sell them as long as he's around. One scene later (Rath looks dishevelled), he tries to sell photos, but has no luck. Lola sings about being careful of women who have blonde hair. Four years later (1929), Rath, even more dishevelled, is putting on clown makeup. Kiepert announces that the tour will go back to Rath's hometown, with Rath himself as attraction. Rath refuses to go.

The troupe is back at the Blue Angel. Mazeppa, a strongman, is one of the performers leaving. He hangs back, though, once he sees Lola. The two of them flirt. Rath refuses to go onstage, but he is pushed on by Lola and Kiepert. Kiepert pulls eggs from under Rath's nose, makes doves appear. Rath is unresponsive, making Kiepert angry. Marzeppa and Lola flirt just offstage in the wings.

Kiepert, who has been getting angrier and angrier, drags Rath to the front of the stage and says brutally, "Crow." Rath crows desperately, then runs to the back and wraps himself in the stage curtain. Lola and Marzeppa go into Lola's room and close to door. Rath bangs himself against Lola's door, gets it open, tries to strangle Lola. Rath gets put in Marzeppa's straitjacket. Kiepert lets him out, says will take care of everything. Rath leaves, staggers back to his school. (intercut with shots of Lola singing "Falling in Love Again"). The custodian who'd let Rath in discovers him dead at his desk.

My notes
-- music moves narrative, connects scenes, illustrates themes, foreshadows (particularly "Falling in Love Again" and "Take care of women who have blonde hair")
-- images of Lola
-- Rath --> Unrath (excrement in German). Loses himself, is negated.
-- Camera directions fairly detailed.
-- Parallel between clown and Rath.

FT 540 notes (from 05/29/03)
Goddess destroys Rath. Woman seen as aspect of nature -- if not honored, will destroy.

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