Josef von sternberg

The legend of Marlene Dietrich

How to sum up the legend of Marlene Dietrich? She was an actor, a singer, a style icon, even a war hero. A retrospective is under way at the BFI, where more than a dozen of her films are being shown throughout this month. Many admirers saw only the shimmering legs and forgot the sharp intellect, the wartime gallantry. But it would be wrong to deny that body image was central to her success. It was with this in mind that the critic Robin Wood christened Dietrich ‘the Venus de Marlene’. Like the statue alluded to, Dietrich is a monument of Western culture, her image cast not in stone, but