Ernst Lubitsch

Ernst Lubitsch – Cluny Brown (1946)

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The final film completed by Ernst Lubitsch, this zany, zippy comedy of manners, set in England on the cusp of World War II, is one of the worldly-wise director’s most effervescent creations. Jennifer Jones shines in a rare comedic turn as Cluny Brown, an irrepressible heroine with a zeal for plumbing. Sent to work as a parlormaid at a stuffy country manor, she proceeds to turn the household upside down—with plenty of help from Adam Belinski (Charles Boyer), an eccentric Continental exile who has fled the Nazis but is still worried about where his next meal is coming from. Sending up British class hierarchy with Lubitsch’s famously light touch, Cluny Brown is a topsy-turvy farce that says nuts to the squirrels and squirrels to the nuts. Read More »

Ernst Lubitsch – Die Puppe AKA The Doll (1919)

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The Baron of Chanterelle (Max Kronert) demands that his nephew Lancelot (Hermann Thimig) get married to preserve the family line. A skittish and effeminate fellow, Lancelot does not wish to marry, so when his uncle presents him with 40 enthusiastic brides, he hides out with a group of monks. The gluttonous monks learn about Lancelot’s potential cash reward for his nuptials, so they cook up a plan: he can marry a doll… Read More »

Ernst Lubitsch – Ninotchka (1939)

Synopsis:
Ninotchka is a stern, straightlaced Communist Party member sent to Paris to finish the sale of Grand Duchess Swana’s jewels for the Soviet government. But, while studying the frivolous materialism of Paris, Ninotchka meets Leon, Swana’s lawyer and sometime lover, and the two become enamored with one another — without knowing each other’s identity. The Grand Duchess, in the meantime, is suing the USSR for ownership of the jewels. What follows is a delicate web of intrigue and deception as Swana tries to blackmail Ninotchka into leaving Paris. Soon the two lovers have to overcome political hurdles and cross borders just to be together. Read More »

Ernst Lubitsch – Ich möchte kein Mann sein AKA I Don’t Want to Be a Man (1918)

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A teenaged tomboy, tired of being bossed around by her strict guardian, impersonates a man so she can have more fun, but discovers that being the opposite sex isn’t as easy as she had hoped.

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I Don’t Want To Be A Man is like The Oyster Princess an early example of Ernst Lubitsch’s comic skills, and it also shares The Oyster Princess’ star, the irrepressible comedienne Ossi Oswalda, who in both films lends her name to the characters she plays. Here she plays a wild, rambunctious late teen barely under the control of her guardian/uncle and governess. (In reality it takes a while to work out that this middle-aged couple glaring disapprovingly out the window at Ossi’s mild antics outside are not her parents; they seemed rather coded as such.) Read More »

Ernst Lubitsch – Broken Lullaby (1932)

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A young French soldier in World War I is overcome with guilt when he kills a German soldier who, like himself, is a musically gifted conscript, each having attended the same musical conservatory in France. The fact that the incident occurred in war does not assuage his guilt. He travels to Germany to meet the man’s family. Read More »

Ernst Lubitsch – The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

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The Budapest department store run by Hugo Matuschek (Frank Morgan) is a happy little society of salesclerks, where assistant manager Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) and salesgirl Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) don’t at all see eye to eye. But in secret pen-pal letters they’re madly in love with one another, each hardly guessing who their mysterious secret admirer might be.

The Shop Around the Corner
Ernst Lubitsch is offering some attractive screen merchandise in “The Shop Around the Corner” which opened at the Music Hall yesterday. “Ninotchka” appears to have used up his supply of hearty comedy for the time at least, but his sense of humor is inexhaustible. He has employed it to brighten the shelves where his tidy Continental romance is stored and, among the bric-à-brac, there are several fragile scenes which he is handling with his usual delicacy and charm, assisted by a friendly staff of sales-people who are going under resoundingly Hungarian names, but remind us strangely of Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan and Joseph Schildkraut. All told, they make “The Shop Around the Corner” a pleasant place to browse in. Read More »

Ernst Lubitsch – Als Ich Tot War (1916)

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“The most dangerous threat to the happiness of any young married couple, besides matrimony itself, are the mothers-in-law; this terrible feminine lobby, since the dawn of time , has always meddled and tried to disturb the tranquillity of newlyweds and sometimes their evil schemes succeeded in making a contented life impossible for the youngsters.

The great German director, Herr Ernst Lubitsch, captured pretty well these universal mother-in-law treacherous manoeuvres in “Als Ich Tot War” ( When I Was Dead ) (1916) a two-reel silent comedy shown recently at the Schloss theatre.

The film depicts the story of a young married couple ( Herr Ernst Lubitsch himself and Frau Louise Schenrich ) who live in the same apartment with their mother-in-law ( Frau Lanchen Voss ), a terrible mistake. At least if the mother-in-law lives far away, her dangerous intentions require more exertion to work. Herr Ernst likes very much to play chess with his pals at the club, a thrilling sport that will bring him a lot of problems ( that’s what happens when you play such weird games ). One night Herr Ernst arrives home late due to one of those exciting and lengthy chess matches and finds the door to his home locked, forcing him to sleep on the stairs. It is not necessary to say that the party responsible for such an evil act is his mother-in-law who continually uses the long chess matches to poison her daughter’s mind against her husband. She finally succeeds and Frau Luise divorces her mate. Read More »