New Year’s Countdown, December 27

New Year’s Countdown: Happy birthday Marlene Dietrich, who here serenades David Bowie with the song Just a Gigolo.

T Minus 5

On this day in 1901, Marlene Dietrich was born in Berlin and lived into her 90s, with a career that spanned from when she was 18 and performing in Berlin nightclubs to a long film career in Hollywood.

She was an icon, and made her last feature film in 1979, appearing opposite David Bowie, who was 32 at the time. Its American title is Just a Gigolo, and yes, that song does appear in the film and, although the film is set in post-WW I Berlin, the song is not anachronistic, since the story moves along far enough to have the Nazis starting to muck with things.

The original song, entitled Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo, took lyrics written in Austria in 1924 and set them to music in 1928. The English version was written in 1929. Incidentally, the original German-language version was a tango.

In this clip from the film — which was widely panned and which Bowie himself regretted making —Dietrich’s character sings it to Bowie’s after basically humiliating him in front of a roomful of fellow soldiers.

Incidentally, the film was supposed to be a black comedy. I’m guessing that people just didn’t get the joke.

Watch from the beginning, see the previous post, or experience the next.

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