The Devil Is a Woman (1935)

76, 85, 90 or 93 mins | Drama | 15 March 1935

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Caprice Espagnole and Carnival in Spain . This was Josef von Sternberg's last film with Marlene Dietrich, whose husband, Rudolph Sieber, acted as assistant to Sternberg on this film, according to the pressbook in copyright records. According to a news item in HR , Joel McCrea had a disagreement with Sternberg after one day's work on the film and left the cast. However, according to DV , McCrea left the film after two days because the "male [lead] called for hot Spanish love which director claims McCrea played with too much Nordic restraint." Correspondence and memos in the MPAA/PCA files at the AMPAS library from the MPPDA office indicates that in Apr 1935, the film was approved by the MPPDA, but was not viewed. When Will H. Hays, president of the MPPDA, did view the film, he became concerned that the story made "adultery appear profitable," and put the film up for reevaluation. In a letter to Paramount, dated 1 Apr 1935, Joseph I. Breen, director of the AMPP, suggested changes in order to diminish the "general flavor" of Concha's promiscuity, and also suggested a new ending, in which Concha would be shot by Pasqual while pleading his forgiveness, in order to "clearly and unmistakably establish the fact that she cannot get off scott-free after years of despicable conduct." After another appeal from the Hays Office to Adolph Zukor, five eliminations were made, including a shot of Concha rubbing her leg against Pasqual, a speech by Pasqual in which he admits he "submitted," and three other lines containing sexual innuendo.
       Paramount received an ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Caprice Espagnole and Carnival in Spain . This was Josef von Sternberg's last film with Marlene Dietrich, whose husband, Rudolph Sieber, acted as assistant to Sternberg on this film, according to the pressbook in copyright records. According to a news item in HR , Joel McCrea had a disagreement with Sternberg after one day's work on the film and left the cast. However, according to DV , McCrea left the film after two days because the "male [lead] called for hot Spanish love which director claims McCrea played with too much Nordic restraint." Correspondence and memos in the MPAA/PCA files at the AMPAS library from the MPPDA office indicates that in Apr 1935, the film was approved by the MPPDA, but was not viewed. When Will H. Hays, president of the MPPDA, did view the film, he became concerned that the story made "adultery appear profitable," and put the film up for reevaluation. In a letter to Paramount, dated 1 Apr 1935, Joseph I. Breen, director of the AMPP, suggested changes in order to diminish the "general flavor" of Concha's promiscuity, and also suggested a new ending, in which Concha would be shot by Pasqual while pleading his forgiveness, in order to "clearly and unmistakably establish the fact that she cannot get off scott-free after years of despicable conduct." After another appeal from the Hays Office to Adolph Zukor, five eliminations were made, including a shot of Concha rubbing her leg against Pasqual, a speech by Pasqual in which he admits he "submitted," and three other lines containing sexual innuendo.
       Paramount received an advisory from the Spanish government to "withdraw from circulation the Paramount picture titled The Devil Is a Woman [or] the government will prohibit absolutely in the entire territory of the Spanish Republic and indefinitely all pictures of said concern." A news item in HR reported that Adolph Zukor had announced that Paramount would withdraw the film if they found the Spanish government's objections were "based on sound grounds, which would be settled after a series of conferences." DV noted in a Nov 1935 news item that Paramount had agreed to withdraw all copies of the film worldwide, and that prior to the film's withdrawal, riots occurred in front of the Paramount theater in Madrid where it was being shown. As a result of Paramount's agreement, Spanish authorities were to continue to allow the exhibition of Paramount films in Spain. A 1936 article in NYT notes that Paramount destroyed the original print of the film at the demand of the Spanish government, who protested the unfavorable portrayal of the Spanish police. A news item in the New York American newspaper noted that Germany also banned the film in response to the protest by Spain. The film was released in Australia as Carnival in Spain . DV timed the Los Angeles release at 93 minutes, while the New York release is timed at 76 minutes. The Devil Is a Woman won the 1935 Venice Film Festival category for Best Photography. According to Sternberg's autobiography, Fun in a Chinese Laundry , the director originally intended the film to be called Capriccio Espagnol , but the title was vetoed by powerful Paramount director Ernst Lubitsch in favor of its release title. The film was taken out of circulation until 1959, when it was shown at the Venice Film Festival. Other films based on the same source are Goldwyn Pictures Corp. 1920 film The Woman and the Puppet , directed by Reginald Barker, and starring Geraldine Ferrar and Lou Tellegen, and Luis Buñuel's 1977 film, That Obscure Object of Desire . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 Oct 34
p. 1.
Daily Variety
17 Nov 34
p. 1.
Daily Variety
23 Feb 35
p. 3.
Daily Variety
31 Oct 35
p. 14.
Daily Variety
4 Nov 35
p. 6.
Daily Variety
12 Nov 1935.
---
Film Daily
17 Apr 35
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 34
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 34
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Feb 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 35
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 35
p. 4.
Motion Picture Daily
25 Feb 35
p. 35.
Motion Picture Herald
17 Nov 34
p. 45.
Motion Picture Herald
2 Mar 35
p. 55.
New York American
29 Nov 1935.
---
New York Times
4 May 35
p. 17.
New York Times
29 Mar 1936.
---
Variety
8 May 35
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Josef von Sternberg Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2nd asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Contr to trmt
Contr to scr const
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Ward
Miss Dietrich's costumes des by
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr clerk
Chief elec
Props
Casting
Research
Publicity
Bus mgr
STAND INS
Stand-in for Marlene Dietrich
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel La Femme et le pantin ( The Woman and the Puppet ) by Pierre Louys (Paris, 1898) and the play of the same name by Pierre Louys and Pierre Frondaie (Paris, 8 Dec 1910).
MUSIC
Based on "Spanish Caprice" by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov and old Spanish melodies
other music by Andrea Setaro.
SONGS
"Love in Bloom," "Three Sweethearts Have I" and "Then It Isn't Love," words and music by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Carnival in Spain
Caprice Espagnole
Release Date:
15 March 1935
Production Date:
began 15 October 1934
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
2 May 1935
Copyright Number:
LP5513
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
76, 85, 90 or 93
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
538
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

During carnival week in the south of Spain, Antonio Galvan, expatriate of Spain, sees Concha Perez and becomes infatuated with her. He then meets his old friend Don Pasqual, who relates the story of how Concha ruined him: Pasqual rescued Concha from work in a cigarette factory, gave her enough money to live on and proposed marriage to her, but she disappeared after sending him a letter saying she never wanted to see him again. Three months later, Concha came to ask him for money and professed her love for him, but after receiving the money she refused his second proposal. Six months later, he ran into her at a nightclub where she was the lead singer. He still loved her, although she was consorting with a young bullfighter. After one show, Pasqual broke into her room and beat her upon discovering her with the bullfighter. Later, he bought Concha's contract from the nightclub owner, and Concha rode off with the bullfighter as Pasqual watched from the balcony. Because of their association with Concha, Pasqual lost his military commission and the bullfighter committed suicide. Pasqual makes Antonio swear that he will not see Concha, but Antonio has coffee with her, breaking his promise so he can exact revenge for his friend. Antonio falls in love with her, though, and when Pasqual breaks in, he challenges Antonio to a duel. The next morning they meet and Antonio shoots Pasqual, then the police arrest him. Concha uses her feminine wiles to win his release and two passports, but as she and Antonio cross the border together and are about to board a train for ... +


During carnival week in the south of Spain, Antonio Galvan, expatriate of Spain, sees Concha Perez and becomes infatuated with her. He then meets his old friend Don Pasqual, who relates the story of how Concha ruined him: Pasqual rescued Concha from work in a cigarette factory, gave her enough money to live on and proposed marriage to her, but she disappeared after sending him a letter saying she never wanted to see him again. Three months later, Concha came to ask him for money and professed her love for him, but after receiving the money she refused his second proposal. Six months later, he ran into her at a nightclub where she was the lead singer. He still loved her, although she was consorting with a young bullfighter. After one show, Pasqual broke into her room and beat her upon discovering her with the bullfighter. Later, he bought Concha's contract from the nightclub owner, and Concha rode off with the bullfighter as Pasqual watched from the balcony. Because of their association with Concha, Pasqual lost his military commission and the bullfighter committed suicide. Pasqual makes Antonio swear that he will not see Concha, but Antonio has coffee with her, breaking his promise so he can exact revenge for his friend. Antonio falls in love with her, though, and when Pasqual breaks in, he challenges Antonio to a duel. The next morning they meet and Antonio shoots Pasqual, then the police arrest him. Concha uses her feminine wiles to win his release and two passports, but as she and Antonio cross the border together and are about to board a train for Paris, she changes her mind and takes the return train to be with Pasqual, breaking Antonio's heart. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.