From The Blue Dahlia, to The Blue Angel – it still packs quite a punch after eighty years!
Lola Lola is in town, performing at The Blue Angel, and the schoolboys flock there at night. Their uptight professor investigates, and tries to scare them away. He imagines that Lola is the victim of a “white slavery” racket. Marlene Dietrich’s vamping and singing have been parodied and spoofed, always as homage, I guess, and there’s no denying their power. This was 1930 cinema!
The professor, “Teach” they call him at the club, comically tries to “defend” Lola, and she is touched and amused. He is totally smitten. The impressario makes him the guest of honor for the night. Just what sort of honor is this, I wonder?, he seems to be thinking. Complete fool that he is, he marries Lola Lola – who knows what she makes of it, a nice banquet, maybe? – and his reputation is sunk. At the wedding party, he does an imitation of a crowing rooster – more on that later.
He joins the troupe to stay with Lola, and discovers a different form of white slavery, his own.
I wonder if there is a connection between this image of Lola and this one by Man Ray from a bit later.
Five years go by, and Teach has sunk very low. He has become the clown figure he scorned as trash when he first burst into Lola Lola’s dressing room. She has developed other interests like the strongman Mazeppa, who starts hanging around. He’s a natty dresser.
The troupe leader scores a coup! They will return to The Blue Angel for the first time in five years, and Teach will be featured! The house will be filled for sure – everyone in town knows his story. But he struggles against his ultimate humiliation, and refuses to go on. Lola gives him a fatal look, and he obeys.
On stage with the magician doing his egg-from-the-nose routine, he must crow like a rooster. He complies, but when he sees Lola cuddling offstage, he becomes totally unhinged.
Escaping from the club, he makes his way back to the classroom where it all began, and dies, clutching his old desk so hard that the watchman can’t pry his fingers loose. Too late – he lost his respectable refuge long ago.
At several points in the film, people say to the professor, I can understand a lot, but to ruin yourself for a woman/a dame/a woman like that! Lola Lola closes out with her signature song, “Falling in Love Again,” and laments, “what can I do, I’m just made that way, I can’t help it.” It’s his song too.