Spoilers, of course.
I need to confess that this is my first Von Sternberg film, my first Emil Jannings film, and my first pre-Code Dietrich film.
It's easy to see why Dietrich was an international success. She shows off her legs and underwear for nearly all of the film. The audiences didn't flock to Jannings' face. But, what a face! The whole story of a sad-sack teacher getting on in age suddenly discovering chivalry and romance with a burlesque whore is as magnificently achieved as it is far-fetched. The greatest moment comes during the wedding feast as The Teacher is fully transformed into a Cock following his animal instincts, temporarily liberated and emboldened, though soon to be shackled by that same baseness. I also love the early Clown, who mournfully moves through the first half of the film as a silent witness and prophetic warning.
It's worth discussing Dietrich's role further, but I'll leave that to the rest of you. I'm looking forward to your posts.