I’ve been dragging my feet on this one; it’s a sad and complex movie. I think of the three films in the BRD trilogy this is the most dispiriting, the most enervated, the most torn. It’s shot in Sirk-esque Technicolor, which seems to point simultaneously forward to a bright future and back to a melodramatic swamp in the past. It draws its storyline from von Sternberg’s Blue Angel, which again seems to suggest both evolution/transformation and the idea that nothing is new under the sun. An optimistic and aboveboard building inspector moves to town, prepared to take on corruption and get the city’s fathers to conduct business honestly. But there’s no hope; everyone is who they are. Whores are whores and crooks are crooks. We might enjoy the ideas of progress and enlightenment, but they’re really just fantasies, fan dancers in the nightclub of history. A beautiful tragedy on par with Fassbinder’s best.