Josef von Sternberg. The Case of Lena Smith

Price: EUR 20,00
Price for supporting members*: EUR 16,00

In his 1929 Hollywood production The Case of Lena Smith, director Josef von Sternberg vividly brought to life his youthful memories of Vienna at the turn of the last century. Critic Dwight Macdonald called it “the most completely satisfying American film I have seen”. But only a short fragment survives – Lena Smith is one of the legendary lost masterpieces of the American cinema.

Assembling 150 original stills and set designs, numerous script and production documents and essays by eminent film historians, the book reconstructs Sternberg’s drama about a young woman fighting the oppressive class system of Imperial Vienna. It also includes essays by Janet Bergstrom, Gero Gandert, Franz Grafl, Alexander Horwath, Hiroshi Komatsu and Michael Omasta, a preface by Meri von Sternberg, as well as contemporary reviews and excerpts from Viennese literature of the era.


"A treasury of a book" (Film Quarterly) --- "The treasure trove goes on and on, attractively and cleanly displayed." (Sight & Sound) --- "A must for any serious film library"  (H-Net) --- "A fascinating anthology" (Moving Image Source)


"These images show that Sternberg was already at the absolute zenith of his shimmery mise-en-scène powers ... and that should be enough to embolden readers to plummet into these dreamy pages with the conviction they're going to a better place." (Guy Maddin, Film Comment)


Josef von Sternberg. The Case of Lena Smith

Edited by Alexander Horwath und Michael Omasta

FilmmuseumSynemaPublikationen Vol. 5

Vienna 2007. 304 pages, with numerous illustrations

In English and German throughout

ISBN 978-3-901644-22-1
Table of Contents - Josef von Sternberg (PDF)


All publications produced by the Austrian Film Museum are distributed internationally by Columbia University Press.
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