Sternberg: Chief Director of Private Dream Factory

NY Times:
Most of Hollywood’s great directors were compulsive storytellers — spellbinders, as different as John Ford and Samuel Fuller, who liked nothing better than to spin a gripping yarn.

Josef von Sternberg had a different attitude. For Sternberg, the director of “Shanghai Express” and “The Scarlet Empress,” plots were at most a structuring device, a way of ordering elusive emotions, hazy atmospheres and almost abstract images. There is a story, probably apocryphal, that Sternberg once suggested his movies be projected upside down, so that audiences wouldn’t be distracted from the sublime play of light and shadow on the screen.

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