Eclipse Series 8: Lubitsch Musicals
Ernst Lubitsch enjoyed one of the brightest directorial careers of the 1920s and '30s, so much so that "the Lubitsch touch" became a household phrase--an ineffable meringue of visual wit and flawless timing, ribald humor and emotional delicacy, and a genius for planting all manner of naughty notions in his viewers' minds without doing or showing anything censorable. So much charm, style, and inventiveness, yet video distributors have largely neglected his films, especially the ones that helped establish Paramount Pictures as the most cosmopolitan studio in Hollywood. How much more gratifying, then, that the folks at Criterion who first made Trouble in Paradise (1932) available on DVD have bundled Lubitsch's four early-sound musicals in their admirable Eclipse series. This wonderful quartet of still-saucy and beguiling comedies provides bounteous entertainment while also defining a period in film history--and constituting a monument to a director who knew there should be more to "the talkies" than mere talking.

4 x DVD | NTSC 4:3 | 368 minutes | 18.9 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: English
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance

The Love Parade tells the story of Count Alfred Renard (Maurice Chevalier, Love Me Tonight), a notorious philanderer and military attache living in Paris. When news of his exploits reaches the ambassador, he is recalled to his native land, Sylvania, for an audience with the queen (Jeanette MacDonald, Love Me Tonight). They fall passionately in love, and decide to marry. According to the rules of Sylvania, Alfred will not be king, but prince consort, with no governmental responsibilities or privileges. Alfred must navigate his suddenly sedentary lifestyle while maintaining the affection of the queen.

• In Monte Carlo, the Countess Mara (Jeanette MacDonald) leaves her groom, Duke Otto (Claud Allister, Czar of Broadway), at the alter to head for the titular city. Once there, she loses her limited funds at the roulette wheel, but finds an admirer in Count Rudolph (Jack Buchanan, Brewster's Millions). He poses as a common hairdresser to be closer to her, but can a countess really fall for a hairdresser when her betrothed is a rich and forgiving duke?

• Maurice Chevalier returns to play The Smiling Lieutenant, Niki, who makes the mistake of smiling at his girlfriend Franzi (Claudette Colbert, It Happened One Night) while on duty. His smile and wink are misconstrued as an amorous advance by visiting Princess Anna (Miriam Hopkins, The Heiress). Niki must forsake his love and, by order of the Emperor, marry the princess. But when Franzi shows up in Niki's new home, things begin to get out of control.

One Hour With You reunites Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier as a happily married couple who have trouble once her best friend Mitzi (Genevieve Tobin, Goodbye Again) appears. Mitzi can't help but flirt with Maurice Chevalier's Andre, and he does his best not to respond. The bounds of marriage and propriety are tested in this comedic meditation on fidelity.

Related posts:

  1. Dorothy Mackaill Pre-Code Double Feature: Bright Lights (Adventures in Africa) (1930), The Reckless Hour (1931) DVD9
  2. Eclipse series 42: Silent Ozu — Three Crime Dramas: Walk Cheerfully (1930), That Night’s Wife (1930), Dragnet Girl (1933) 3 x DVD5 Criterion Collection
  3. Forbidden Hollywood Volume 10: Guilty Hands (1931), The Mouthpiece (1932), Secrets of the French Police (1932), The Match King (1932), Ever in My Heart (1933) 5 x DVD5
  4. Monte Cristo (1929) 2 x DVD9
  5. La chienne / The Bitch (1931), On purge bebe / Baby’s Laxative (1931) 2 x DVD9 and Blu-Ray Criterion Collection