Author: Rachel Sarasin

The “Utterly Impossible” Story of ‘Blonde Venus’

“As soon as you stopped singing and started luring men into the bedroom, that’s when the moral outrage would kick in.”[1] This quote sums it up best when referring to the 1932 pre-Code film, Blonde Venus[2]. Starring Marlene Dietrich, and directed by one of Dietrich’s biggest collaborators, Josef von Sternberg[3], Blonde Venus was set to be another hit. While production was scheduled to start on April 4, 1932, Paramount Pictures and the censors had many difficulties coming to agreements on the film, so production was pushed way back, with the film not being released until September 16, 1932. Being the pre-Code era, censors were not enforcing their rules quite as strictly as they did after 1934, but that did not stop them from trying hard to change this film, or not have it made at all. Looking into the Production Code Administration files[4] for Blonde Venus, there was much back and forth between Paramount Pictures, the censors, etc. In a letter addressed to Mr. Will H. Hays, the head of the Code, Jason S. Joy, …

Rachel Sarasin is currently a Cinema Studies student at Oakland University. Rachel hopes to pursue a career in production management in the film industry. Her friends love to take advantage of her passion for planning and organizing, but she doesn’t mind. If you’re one of the lucky people that receives the OUTV channel, you may spot her as the host of “OUt and AbOUt,” a monthly series documenting events happening around Oakland University. She’s also a Yooper, so if you see her around, feel free to ask her about the many mysteries and histories of the Upper Peninsula.