Pages 392-397

This page-by-page annotation is organized by sections, as delineated by the seven squares (sprockets) which separate each section. The page numbers for this page-by-page annotation are for the original Viking edition (760 pages). Editions by other publishers vary in pagination — the newer Penguin editions are 776 pages; the Bantam edition is 886 pages.

Contributors: Please use a 760-page edition (either the original Viking edition with the orange cover or the Penguin USA edition with the blue cover and rocket diagram — there are plenty on Ebay for around $10) or search the Google edition for the correct page number. Readers: To calculate the Bantam edition use this formula: Bantam page # x 1.165. Before p.50 it's about a page earlier; as you get later in the book, add a page.

Finally, profound thanks to Prof. Don Larsson for providing the foundation for this page-by-page annotation.

Page 393

tenement courtyards . . . Highlights are painted on to the sets

The tenement courtyards can be seen in many German films of the 1920s, especially the "street" films such as Pabst’s The Joyless Street as well as in Fritz Lang’s M (1931). Highlights painted on the sets are a feature of some early German Expressionist films, notably The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Wikipedia entry

vamp a la Brigitte Helm

Brigitte Helm in Metropolis
Brigitte Helm (1908-1996) was a German actress. Her first and most famous role was a double one: the saintly Maria and the evil robot who tries to seduce the workers to their own destruction in Lang’s ''Metropolis'' (1927). After Metropolis In 1935, angered by Nazi control of the German film industry, she moved to Switzerland where she later had 4 children with her second husband Dr. Hugo Kunheim, an industrialist. After her retirement from films in 1936 (she made over 30, including talkies), she refused to grant any interviews concerning her film career.

Page 394

Original Poster for The Blue Angel
394.3 the anti-Dietrich

Greta’s reference is somewhat anachronistic. If she achieved stardom in the 1920s, Greta would not have been compared to Dietrich until late in her career. Although featured in several German silent films, Dietrich only became famous when she starred in the first German talking film, The Blue Angel, in 1930. The director, Josef von Sternberg, brought her to Hollywood where he made her one of the great stars, playing a "destroyer of men" in such American films as Morocco (1930), Blonde Venus (1932), and The Devil Is a Woman (1935). Note that Pynchon also referred anachronistically to Dietrich’s eyebrows in the chapter "Mondaugen’s Story" in V. Greta's appearance as a faded but deadly silent film star is also (anachronistically) similar to Gloria Swanson's role as Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950).

Herrenchiemsee: Exterior & Interior

394.22 Herrenchiemsee
The last and largest of the castles built by the mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, modeled after Versailles. Also see note at p.750.

394.23 Ludwig II

Helmut Berger
Something was "in the air" about Ludwig in the early 1970s. The mad king was the subject of a film by Italian director Luchino Visconti in 1973. The date is too close to the publication of Gravity’s Rainbow to be a likely direct influence, but could there have been an indirect connection? The film’s star, Helmut Berger, also had the lead in Visconti’s The Damned (1969), playing the transvestite scion of a German industrialist family. He imitates Marlene Dietrich and is eventually involved in a child’s murder. All of this is suggestive in relation to Greta and Blicero.

Poster for Fridericus Rex
394.24 The rage then was all for Frederick

A reference to the popular series of German films about Frederick the Great that began with Fridericus Rex (1922) and lasted into the Hitler era, all starring Otto Gebuhr. Kracauer notes how these films tended to routinize rebellion by placing it as part of a process leading to submission (From Caligari to Hitler 118).

394.31 even on orthochromatic stock
Orthochromatic film stock was standard in the movie industry through most of the silent era. It produced the warm tones alluded to here, but was sensitive only to certain portions of the light spectrum and would not register reds or yellows (one reason for the heavy makeup worn in some silent films). It was replaced in the late 1920s by Panchromatic stock, which is sensitive to all colors in the spectrum.

394.33 Das Wütend Reich
Literally, 'The Raging Empire', although gramatically it should be Das Wütende Reich; evokes Wuotan and his Wütende Heer, see notes 72.27 and 75.13

394.34 Endless negotiating, natty little men with Nazi lapel pins
One nearly legendary story, retold by Kracauer and others, is how Fritz Lang was called to a bureaucrat’s office after making his film M, the story of a child murderer played by Peter Lorre. The official, sporting a pin like the ones mentioned here, wanted to know what the film was about, assuming that the working title, Murderer among Us, referred to Hitler. He was reassured to find out the real subject, and the film’s name was changed. Von Göll may have met the same bureaucrat.

394.33 Königreich
Igor Zabel notes that the word simply means "Kingdom."

Louise Brooks as Lulu
394.35 delighted Goebbels

But probably only in private. The perverse personal tastes of the Nazi leadership are legendary (in more than one sense), but German films under Hitler’s regime and Goebbels’ supervision always endorsed bourgeois morality and would never have displayed anything close to the decadence of von Göll’s Good Society. (Hitler is supposed to have claimed that Gone with the Wind was his favorite movie!) The film does echo scenes of decadent parties in earlier German films, such as Dr. Mabuse, Lubitsch’s Madame DuBarry and The Merry Widow, and Pabst’s Diary of a Lost Girl (starring Louise Brooks, right) and The Love of Jeanne Ney.

Beyond the Zero

3-7, 7-16, 17-19, 20-29, 29-37, 37-42, 42-47, 47-53, 53-60, 60-71, 71-72, 72-83, 83-92, 92-113, 114-120, 120-136, 136-144, 145-154, 154-167, 167-174, 174-177

Un Perm' au Casino Herman Goering

181-189, 189-205, 205-226, 226-236, 236-244, 244-249, 249-269, 269-278

In the Zone

279-295, 295-314, 314-329, 329-336, 336-359, 359-371, 371-383, 383-390, 390-392, 392-397, 397-433, 433-447, 448-456, 457-468, 468-472, 473-482, 482-488, 488-491, 492-505, 505-518, 518-525, 525-532, 532-536, 537-548, 549-557, 557-563, 563-566, 567-577, 577-580, 580-591, 591-610, 610-616

The Counterforce

617-626, 626-640, 640-655, 656-663, 663-673, 674-700, 700-706, 706-717, 717-724, 724-733, 733-735, 735-760

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