Vintage original 7 x 9″ (19 x 23 cm.) black-and-white single weight glossy silver gelatin print still photo, USA. Marlene Dietrich, Lionel Atwill, Edward Everett Horton, Alison Skipworth, Cesar Romero, dir: Josef von Sternberg; Paramount. Based on the Pierre Louÿs novel La femme et le pantin, the film, long in production due to director Sternberg’s attention to artifice, resulted in several title changes. Even in these on-the-set production costume shots, the stills were released announcing that Caprice Espagnol was the tentative title. The film, released only briefly in 1935, would be the last of the Sternberg-Dietrich vehicles.

Fortunately, she liked the film. When the Spanish government announced they would ban all Paramount films in all its territories if this film was not withdrawn because of its unfavorable portrait of the police, the studio destroyed the original prints. Dietrich, however, kept a copy in pristine condition from which prints were generated starting in 1959, thus saving the film.

Certainly, Dietrich was photographed by Sternberg exquisitely, and dressed by Travis Banton. Set against a surreal carnival in Spain, the story of a man’s obsession with the exotic Concha Perez is told in flashback. Still labeled “1026-94” (number is handwritten in pencil on verso) of Dietrich in full length displaying a most outrageous costume against an outrageous background (art direction also by Sternberg) — a true study in portraiture lighting and diffusion. Often it was director Sternberg who took these portrait images. Flawless condition. FINE.

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