Blonde Venus (dir. Josef von Sternberg, 1932)
Former Bristol IMAX, Bristol Aquarium, Anchor Rd, Bristol BS1 5TT
Sunday 20 November 2022, 4pm

Running Time: 1hr 33min; Rating: PG

Ex-nightclub singer Helen Faraday (Marlene Dietrich) returns to performing as the popular “Blonde Venus” to support her son and husband Ned (Herbert Marshall) who has become sick with radium poisoning. Whilst Ned seeks an expensive cure in Germany, Helen sells herself to millionaire playboy Nick Townsend (Cary Grant) to make ends meet. When he returns from Europe cured, Ned finds out about her affair with Townsend and disowns her. The film came under scrutiny from the Hays Office and von Sternberg was forced to accommodate changes demanded from the Production Code. With an introduction by Pamela Hutchinson.

One of seven films that von Sternberg made with the inimitable Dietrich and one of the six films Grant made in his very first year in Hollywood, Blonde Venus is a wonderful mixture between maternal melodrama and show-stopping spectacle, with Dietrich singing the unforgettable numbers ‘Hot Voodoo’, ‘You Little So-and-So’, and ‘I Couldn’t Be Annoyed’. draped in glittering costumes by Travis Banton.

With an uncredited performance from Hattie McDaniel, as Cora, Helen’s maid in New Orleans who later became the first African American to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy in Gone With the Wind.

Another Pre-Code gem not to be missed on the largest screen in Bristol, with an introduction by Pamela Hutchinson.

“In Blonde Venus, Marlene Dietrich stars as a young mother who will do anything to save her husband, and Cary Grant enters the picture as a rich smoothie who offers her an easy way out. From the cabaret stage to the boudoir, the tension crackles, and the trouble escalates” (Pamela Hutchinson)

Pamela Hutchinson is a freelance writer, critic, film historian and curator based on the south coast of England. She writes for Sight and Sound, Criterion, and the Guardian, and regularly appears on BBC radio.She has curated seasons including Marlene Dietrich: Falling in Love Again at BFI Southbank and the touring programme Pre-Code Hollywood: Rules are Made to be Broken, with Christina Newland. Her publications include the BFI Film Classic on Pandora’s Box and essays in several edited collections. Her site is devoted to silent cinema.







We are delighted to be partnering with Slapstick Festival  on our pre- code series this year. Slapstick Festival, running next year 14-19th February, is one of the world’s leading festivals dedicated to preserving and screening silent classic comedy movies and it’s one of UK’s biggest comedy festivals, featuring your favourite comedians introducing and discussing films that inspired them.



IMAX Accessibility Statement

The Auditorium is accessible via lift. We have space for around 10-15 wheelchair users behind the top row of the Auditorium with no restricted viewing.


Please note for all the screenings at the Former Bristol IMAX, we’re piloting a Sliding Scale – “Pay What You Can Afford” Ticket, as we want to offer as many people as possible the opportunity to see these wonderful films on the largest screen in Bristol!

Free-£15, plus 10% Booking Fee.

Or take advantage of our special ticket offer – all three IMAX Screenings: Full price: £21; Concession: £12, plus £.150 Transaction Fee.

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Cary Grant and Loretta Young stand in front of a grand Christmas Tree, gazing at each other, still from The Bishop's Wife.





With support of the BFI Film Audience Network, awarding funds from the National Lottery in order to bring this project to more audiences across the UK




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With the support of Col and Karen Needham and IMDb


In Association with UWE Bristol Moving Image Research Group



Celebrating Bristol’s status as a UNESCO City of Film, in recognition of the city’s vibrant screen heritage, of which Cary Grant is one of our brightest stars

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