No Love, No Nothin’

Leave it to Marlene Dietrich, one of the naughtiest dames of the silver screen, to make a song about abstinence and fidelity sound like such a perverse dream. It’s not so much a promise to remain faithful; judging from that purr, it’s more of a promise to deliver every fantasy, when the time comes. No one would believe that Dietrich was the type to sit with her ankles crossed while her man went off to war, even if we didn’t already know that she very categorically was not. She never did have much use for monogamy, and when it came to war, she was the first to race to the front lines. She never pretended to be very wholesome for the public either. She pushed the boundaries of innuendo as much as she could in her constricted day. A song that would be, in anyone else’s rendition, a typically saccharine self-abnegating love song is from her a tease and a rebuke, a groan of barely veiled sexual frustration.

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