Last month, I was able to watch Pandora's Box one night on Turner Classic Movies. That's the famous 1929 silent classic directed by G. W. Pasbt. Louise Brooks established her place in film history as the lovely, seductive woman whose uninhibited ways could bring out the desire in not just men. Unleashed desires did not always bring about a happy ending. Here's Brooks as the siren Lulu.
Louise Brooks had a look that the camera loved. Her bobbed hair became the talented actress' signature.
I studied and saw Pandora's Box for the first time in one of my university film classes. Asphalt, a melodrama, is not the classic that Pabst's film is, but Betty Amann sure does make this creatively shot film worth a look. She's a bad girl who leads a good traffic cop astray.
We see her use her devious vamp skills on an older gentlemen who works in a jewelry store. I found Betty Amann as Else in this drama to be just as interesting a film personality as Louise Brooks. She's styled a different way than Brooks was as Lulu in Pandora's Box. The look works.
In this film, the camera lingers on actors' faces and on scenes in a way that gives you more information about the character and gives the scenes more tension. For instance, the young traffic cop gets up and gets ready for work. He lives with his parents. His mother is a careworn, gentle woman whom he loves very much and that love is returned. They hug, They kiss. Then there's the grizzled-looking, militaristic father. He never stands to hug or kiss his son. His son stands right before him and father just looks at him. Not moving a hand towards him. Not making the effort to show any physical display of affection. And he's a man of few words. They way the father remains seated as if he's glued to the chair makes you think "What's that all about?" Along with the smart cinematography, we get a psychological approach to the characters that lifts the melodrama.
When the good cop attempts to leave, she jumps out of bed and she's on him like white on rice.
Betty Amann gives such a bold and energetic performance with a brazen sexuality that she makes this bad dame a good time to watch. It's a strong performance. When we first see her, she appears demure and ladylike. But Amann reveals an unmistakable touch of the gutter that's appropriate for this underworld story.