Top Not-Sure-How-Many-Yet Most Emotionally Gut-Wrenching Films

The two top ten lists I’ve done so far rather demonstrate my shortcomings in math.  The first, a list of Halloween movies, includes nine entries, and the second, a list of “guilty pleasures,” stops at four.   Best to leave it open ended then.   

This one is a list of films I find emotionally draining, the anti-chicken-soup-for-the-soul movies.  However, because they are cathartic, it  may, but doesn’t nenecessarily have to follow that they are depressing.   These are movies that go down like naturalist novels. Movies wherein the hero, or anti-hero, has very little chance of succeeding on his or her own terms.  We know at the start that things are likely to end badly for them, yet sometimes there is much to admire in them nonetheless, and always there is something to identify with or at least pity in a “there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I” sort of way. 

“Your boys should see you now.”–Lola

#1.  The Blue Angel.  The Blue Angel tells the story of Immanuel Rath, a holier-than-thou teacher who pursues his wayward students to the local night club in hopes of catching them red handed as they seek to catch a glimpse of the sultry Lola-Lola, played by Marlene Dietrich.   One glimpse of Lola, however, and it is Rath who is ensnared.  The movie brought fame to Dietrich and to the song Falling in Love Again, which she sings in her act, and its lyrics provide a pretty good summary of what fate has in store for Rath:  “Men cluster to me like moths around a flame/And if their wings burn, I know I’m not to blame.”  Rath, as it turns out, burns spectacularly.  He gives up his respected teaching position to marry Lola, and for the rest of the movie we watch his descent as she moves quickly through his savings and tires of him.  A broken man, he is transformed from an object of admiration to one of derision as he is forced to perform in the act as a clown, even upon return to his home town.  The Blue Angel, ultimately, is a cautionary tale and has a little bit of a classical Greek feel in that Rath, at least in part, is brought low through his own hubris.  StillEmil Jannings’ performance as Rath is sure to move all but the hardest of hearts.  The movie is public domain and may be watched in its entirety on YouTube.  

P.S.- And just for fun, in case the Dietrich version wasn’t enough, here’s Linda Rondstadt doing an incredible rendition of the song.  Isn’t YouTube great?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s