How would Lubitsch do it?
November 19, 2013 3:01 AM   Subscribe

These movies offer not just a twist, but a twist atop a twist, and a joke atop the joke: the “superjoke,” as Billy Wilder called it. Those themes repeat: the lively, often-painful love triangle, the sexual and romantic jealousy, the thrill of sex, and in this case, the carnal kicks co-mingling with the art of stealing, an act more erotic than gold-digging. (Gold-fleecing is much more penetrating.) And then—important during one of the worst economic times in America’s history—there’s Lily and Gaston’s hard, artful work, something to respect.

Ernst Lubitsch’s charming pre-Code transgressions
posted by timshel (10 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Neat. I'd sure like to see "One Hour With You", "Trouble in Paradise" and "The Smiling Lieutenant"

DVR Alert: You can set Turner Classic Movies to send you email reminders both a week and a day before these Lubitsch movies get played.
posted by surplus at 5:59 AM on November 19, 2013

You could just stop the whole article with "Ernst Lubitsch’s charming," because, Oh Boy.

Witty, playful, naughty -- Lubitsch is sparkling. There, I said it. And Trouble in Paradise is so so so good. They are drunk with the possibilities of sound -- I think the piano notes rising as someone runs up a staircase, then falling as they run down may originate there, and people shout in sever languages at once for no better reason than they can.

And, despite the triangle focused on the man, the women characters in Trouble in Paradise are pretty strong and express their own agency forcefully. If the rich heiress is risking being swindled, we get the definite impression that she knows what she's risking, and is OK with it. It's a naughty game that they Hayes Code would make impossible by trying to drive naughty out of the movies.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:09 AM on November 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

Holy crap I gotta see Design for Living... sounds like its 30 years ahead of "Jules et Jim".
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:06 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

These are a real hole in my movie knowledge, adding them to my watch list. Really, really loving The Dissolve, I hope that they're making enough money with the site to keep it going.
posted by octothorpe at 7:20 AM on November 19, 2013

Is The Dissolve thinking its loyal readers will buy this DVD, or do they intend some other way to watch this "assigned" movie?
posted by surplus at 7:30 AM on November 19, 2013

Lubitsch and Chevalier. A match made in a special, naughty, Parisian corner of Heaven. One Hour with You has got to be on my cross-genre top ten list; il me rend faible dans les genoux.

Rumor has it that Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald coudn't stand each other offscreen - she thought he was a pig and he thought she was a prude. Somehow, onscreen, though, it translated into fireworks.

But, "Oh, that Mitzi!"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:54 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm watching Design for Living right now. It has one of the best (barely) minced oaths I've heard: "Those faking art dealers!"
posted by topynate at 9:11 AM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

If we define queerness as a liquidity, an openness to possibility,a prioritizing of pleasure, a cosmopolitian otherness, a camp sparkle--Lubitsch is one of the best queer film makers, and in his comedies of the problems of manners, suggests a political way forward, esp. in his oppostion of the code, esp. esp. in design for living, which is so bubbly and ephermeal, that its difficult to talk about at all.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:59 AM on November 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

The boxed set of The Love Parade, The Smiling Lieutenant, One Hour With You, and the not-as-good-as-the-others Monte Carlo are the only DVDs I own. So, so good. If you're looking for a starting point among those, I suggest The Smiling Lieutenant followed by One Hour With You (though The Love Parade has this cute/sexy number it's a bit of a sprawling lovely mess).

Oh, and if you're lucky enough to have the chance see Universal's 35mm print of One Hour With You in the wild, do. It's tinted!
posted by bubukaba at 10:05 AM on November 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh man, if anyone here has not seen Trouble In Paradise, you should remedy that tout suite. So charming, so funny, so good.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:09 PM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

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