Thursday, May 13, 2004

Smells Like Unrat...

Poor Professor Rath. Sure, he's an ill-tempered curmudgeon, but his students tease him mercilessly, calling him "Unrat" instead of Rath, a play on words in German meaning "foul smell." I've been reading this classic German novel, in which the stodgy professor is totally ruined when he becomes obsessed with a cabaret singer named Lola. Only half-way through the book did I realize that this was the basis of the classic 1930 film "The Blue Angel" (see picture) that launched Marlene Dietrich and the song "Falling In Love Again." Decades later, Mel Brooks and Madeleine Khan (playing Lily Von Shtupp) parodied this scene in "Blazing Saddles" with the hilarious musical number, "I'm Tired." Interestingly, Dietrich left Germany in 1933, unable to stomach the nazis, while Emil Jennings, who played the Professor, stayed and became a Nazi progandist. He was disgraced after the war...

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