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Marlene Dietrich Dior

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Sternberg is known for his exceptional skill in lighting and photographing Dietrich to optimum effect. He had a signature use of light and shadow, including the impact of light passed through a veil or slatted window blinds (as for example in Shanghai Express). This combined with the scrupulous attention to set design and costumes makes the films they made together are among cinema's most visually stylish. Critics still vigorously debate how much of the credit belonged to Sternberg and how much to Dietrich, but most would agree that neither consistently reached such heights again after Paramount fired Sternberg and the two ceased working together. The collaboration of one actress and director creating seven films is still unmatched in motion pictures, with the possible exception of Katharine Hepburn and George Cukor, who made ten films together over a much longer period but which were not created for Hepburn the way the last six von Sternberg/Dietrich collaborations were.

From the early 1950s until the mid-1970s, Dietrich worked almost exclusively as a cabaret artist, performing live in large theatres in major cities worldwide.

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