MARIKA by Darwin Porter


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It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Take all the sensational episodes and rumors connected to a gaggle of film femmes fatales--Dietrich, Garbo, Lamarr, Leni Riefenstahl--call them Marika Kreisler and dish it all out. So we have thirteen-year-old Prussian-Jewish Marika peddled by a countess-procuress to a lecherous but semi-impotent Polish count (""He's disgusting!"" she opines), then consorting with her Jewish tutor (""I've made you a woman now,"" he comments), then raped by Cossacks (still-birthing the tutor's baby), then returning to Germany for WW I (""I fear our old way of life is gone forever,"" someone Sarajevoes), killing German soldiers, escaping with a British soldier, and getting married and fat in England (""You're nothing but a tub of suet!"" hubby chides). Intermission. Ten years later off to Vienna to meet Jewish grandma, lose weight via horsemeat tartare, lie about age, be tricked into nudie film à la Ecstasy, have child by matinee idol, be made-a-star by genius von Menzel, go to Hollywood, start trend by wearing pants, return to Germany, sing ""Lili Marlene,"" make propaganda movie, frolic with Hitler (""Kick me!"" he suggests, wearing chocolate-brown satin pajamas), be served poisoned tartare by Goebbels, disappear (thought dead) for years, resurface to become controversial legend, cling to ravaged beauty. No wonder she's tired. And no wonder she's totally unreal, unsympathetic, and unformed, being a composite of surfaces stuck together with paperback-original prose. Exhausting, degrading, but without the authentic titillation of even the quickest flip through a movie-gossip magazine.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1977
Publisher: Arbor House