Ernst Lubitsch

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 »

Ernst Lubitsch – Kohlhiesels Töchter AKA Kohlhiesel’s Daughters (1920)

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Somewhere in Southern Bavaria Xaver wants to marry Gretel, but her father Kohlhiesel wants his elder daughter Liesel to marry first. The problem is, nobody wants to marry her, because she’s too brutal. Seppel suggests, that he should marry Liesel first, get rid of her and then he can marry Gretel… Read More »

Ernst Lubitsch – Madame DuBarry aka Passion (1919)

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In 1919, before Ernst Lubitsch was known for his famous “touch,” the master director made something like nine films–a perfect opportunity for an artist to really practice his craft. Even he had to start somewhere.

Madame du Barry was retitled Passion to avoid the anti-German sentiment after World War I. Even though it was a French title and a French story, in Europe the movie was connected to the German director Ernst Lubitsch. Lubitsch’s name appeared nowhere in the American posters or movie titles so the movie wouldn’t bomb in America.

The great German actress Pola Negri plays the title character, a poor seamstress who becomes the courtesan of King Louis XV (Emil Jannings), and forces him to promote her secret lover to lieutenant in the royal guard so that he will be close to her. The story ends in tragedy for the lovers, but also a Bastille Day triumph. Read More »