The Devil Is a Woman

Sternberg's last film with Dietrich was originally titled Caprice Espagnol, and it is a moody and outlandish tribute to feminine caprice set against a backdrop of carnival in Spain. In a plot drawn from the same story on which Buñuel based That Obscure Object of Desire, Don Pasqual (Lionel Atwill) narrates to his younger friend Antonio (Cesar Romero) the tale of his affair with the Carmen-esque Concha (Dietrich), “the most dangerous woman you'll ever meet.” Masked and veiled, glimpsed through elaborate gates and screens, Concha is a figure of unattainable ambiguity and arbitrary cruelty. “If you had loved me enough, you would have killed yourself last night,” she says, wearing a garland of black hearts around her neck. The film balances stylish fatalism with high camp; there are flickers of wit through Concha's false eyelashes as she seals a man's fate with the words “I've changed my mind.”

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