The Devil Is a Woman (1935)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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The Devil Is a Woman should have been a classic film, teaming again as it did Marlene Dietrich with her "Svengali," Josef von Sternberg. The chemistry and the magic, however, is not quite there this time around; indeed, at times Dietrich seems to be acting in a different film than the one von Sternberg is directing, for the tone of her performance is considerably lighter than that which von Sternberg sets for most of the rest of the film. Dietrich is not necessarily wrong to try this tactic, as this kind of romance has as much of the farce as it does the tragedy about it. Unfortunately, while Dietrich's take on the role is wonderful in parts, it doesn't add up to a cohesive whole. This damages the film as much as it does her performance, as the audience loses patience with Lionel Atwill for being so fatally obsessed with a woman whose manipulations are so obvious. As the third part of the triangle, Cesar Romero smolders and struts appropriately, but he doesn't find a third dimension to his character. The result of all this is a mishmash of a film, one that doesn't quite know what to make of itself. Parts of it are quite good, and much of the visual element is stunning, but it's ultimately a near miss rather than a solid hit.