Eclipse Series 8: Lubitsch Musicals

Discuss DVDs released in the Eclipse and Essential Art House lines and the films on them.
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david hare
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#51 Post by david hare » Sat Nov 17, 2007 12:21 am

Ive posted caps from the UK OOP Boxset Angel (same print) at the appropriate thread, I think.) The print is in very good nick (no vertical tramlines like Desire) but is slightly (VERY slightly) less flawless tonally. It's a darker movie visually in any case.

I second and third all the votes for Smiling Lieutenant and would kill to get a copy of So this is Paris. The problem I have with One Hour with You - and this may well be inherent in the dual director arrangement - is that it displays something like stodginess in delivery, compared to the other Macdonald Chevalier vehicles, and the regular Chevalier asides to the camera are an annoyance frankly that even Mamoulian doesn't stoop to in Love me Tonight (a lesser film than the best of the Lubitsches.)

Merry Widow is a knockout and the best of the "musicals" by clear margin, IMO. It's not only that it has a superior score, but being a verge of code '34 picture it seems to have more edge, more unspoken nuances. The ultimate Lubitsch in this mode is Angel - a mysterious, powerful Pirandellian work that is never quite comedy or drama, but perhaps, because of the code now in place, leaves entire chasms of text unspoken, like the nature of the Baroness' "salon". The byplay between the menage a trois is extremely shaded (equal only to the meange in Design for Living.)

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Danny Burk
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#52 Post by Danny Burk » Sat Nov 17, 2007 12:26 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:I thought this has English titles to start out with?

I assume that there is essentially no chance of a better print ever turning up.
Yes, it had English titles originally. The surviving print originated from a Russian archive and had English titles retranslated and put back in place. The print is murky and loses a lot of detail in shadow areas; IIRC, the highlights are washed out as well. Not a good job of printing.

Doubtful that anything better will turn up; I heard a few years ago that there was a reel or two of nitrate still existing at the Pickford Estate, but being allowed to rot per Mary's wishes :(

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alandau
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#53 Post by alandau » Sat Nov 17, 2007 6:50 pm

Herbert Marshall is an excellent actor. He was the inspiration for Cary Grant, who modelled himself on Marshall's early 30's sophisticated suave performances.
Marshall was able to convey innuendo brilliantly. His career was surely affected by the emergence of the Breen code. He had only a few interesting roles in post-35 Hollywood fairyland.

As for Lubitsch, Angel, is my favourite. The manage a triois is handled so smoothly, and is more interesting than Design for Living.
I also like Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, with it's stunning visuals.

I am very happy with this Eclipse set. I just hope the prints look better than the Universal laserdisc release ( which was impressive for it's time).

I am looking forward for The Merry Widow.

As for Chevalier, one has to be open-minded. MacDonald looking extremely erotic in transparent lingerie, nicely compensates.

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Forrest Taft
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#54 Post by Forrest Taft » Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:40 pm

I´m thinking of picking up this set, but I´ve never seen a single Lubitsch film. Would this be a good place to start, or should I check out something else by him first?

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Michael Kerpan
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#55 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:44 pm

Check out the silent "Marriage Circle" (Image) and the early "Trouble in Paradise" (Criterion) and "Design for Living" (part of a very inexpensive Gary Cooper set). These should give you some idea what his musicals are like.

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domino harvey
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#56 Post by domino harvey » Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:51 pm

RobertAltman wrote:I´m thinking of picking up this set, but I´ve never seen a single Lubitsch film.
:shock:
You are in for such a treat then!
Heaven Can Wait, Trouble in Paradise, Design For Living in that order

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Forrest Taft
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#57 Post by Forrest Taft » Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:56 pm

Much obliged. Once I´ve finished my exams I will check out the library. If I can´t find any of them I will have to order some Criterion titles and a Gary Cooper Collection. Then another Eclipse set. This is going to be expensive.

Edit: Damn you guys (and myself)! Could not wait, have already ordered the Criterion titles and I am getting the Cooper Collection from ebay.

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Via_Chicago
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#58 Post by Via_Chicago » Tue Nov 20, 2007 1:28 pm

RobertAltman wrote:Much obliged. Once I´ve finished my exams I will check out the library. If I can´t find any of them I will have to order some Criterion titles and a Gary Cooper Collection. Then another Eclipse set. This is going to be expensive.

Edit: Damn you guys (and myself)! Could not wait, have already ordered the Criterion titles and I am getting the Cooper Collection from ebay.
I disagree with Domino Harvey, do not watch Heaven Can Wait first. While I personally do not like the film (just so you know where I'm coming from), it could either turn you onto Lubitsch or totally turn you off (members on this board seem decidely split with regards to this film). You're better off starting out with something like Trouble in Paradise or The Shop Around the Corner. I also have an immense amount of fondness for To Be or Not To Be, which is a deliriously funny and immensely delightful film.

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Michael Kerpan
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#59 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Nov 20, 2007 1:34 pm

Via_Chicago wrote:I disagree with Domino Harvey, do not watch Heaven Can Wait first. W
I agree with Via_Chicago's disagreement. Whatever the virtues of HCW (I see few beyond Laird C's devil), it definitely doesn't give one a good sense of what to expect in the Lubitsch musicals.

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domino harvey
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#60 Post by domino harvey » Tue Nov 20, 2007 1:37 pm

I've turned three people who claimed they "don't like old movies" onto loving Heaven Can Wait, I simply can't understand this forum's adverse response here and elsewhere to this wonderful film.

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tavernier
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#61 Post by tavernier » Tue Nov 20, 2007 1:40 pm

Maybe the others are confusing the Lubitsch classic with the Beatty film of the same name?

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Michael Kerpan
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#62 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Nov 20, 2007 1:58 pm

tavernier wrote:Maybe the others are confusing the Lubitsch classic with the Beatty film of the same name?
Maybe not.

;~}

Not an awful movie at all -- just not a very good example of the things I (for one) like best about Lubitsch..

(When I talk about virtues above -- I am talking specifically about Lubitschian virtues -- not more generic Hollywood movie ones).

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Danny Burk
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#63 Post by Danny Burk » Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:25 pm

I like HCW very much, but it doesn't seem as, well, Lubitsch-like as TROUBLE, MERRY WIDOW, MARRIAGE CIRCLE, and the other 20s-30s films. My vote for first film to see would definitely go to TROUBLE.

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zedz
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#64 Post by zedz » Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:31 pm

RobertAltman wrote:Edit: Damn you guys (and myself)! Could not wait, have already ordered the Criterion titles and I am getting the Cooper Collection from ebay.
Just wait till you see Peter Ibbetson!

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justeleblanc
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#65 Post by justeleblanc » Tue Nov 20, 2007 5:03 pm

RobertAltman wrote:I´m thinking of picking up this set, but I´ve never seen a single Lubitsch film. Would this be a good place to start, or should I check out something else by him first?
NINOTCHKA was the first one I saw and it was great, though it's a bit more Hollywoody and Billy Wildery than his other films. HEAVEN CAN WAIT was my friend's first Lubitsch and he immediately fell in love with the director.

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Michael Kerpan
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#66 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Nov 20, 2007 5:17 pm

If I had seen Ninotchka and Heaven Can Wait first, I'd probably never become a Lubitsch fan. Not the kind of things that would motivate me to seek out more of his work. Whereas Marriage Circle (my actual introduction to Lubitsch) made me a believer right from the first.

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Via_Chicago
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#67 Post by Via_Chicago » Tue Nov 20, 2007 11:49 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:If I had seen Ninotchka and Heaven Can Wait first, I'd probably never become a Lubitsch fan. Not the kind of things that would motivate me to seek out more of his work. Whereas Marriage Circle (my actual introduction to Lubitsch) made me a believer right from the first.
I saw The Shop Around the Corner and I fell absolutely head over heels for the guy.

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Michael Kerpan
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#68 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Nov 21, 2007 12:05 am

Via_Chicago wrote:I saw The Shop Around the Corner and I fell absolutely head over heels for the guy.
That might have worked too. ;~}

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domino harvey
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#69 Post by domino harvey » Wed Nov 21, 2007 12:18 am

See, though I like the film, Shop Around the Corner is easily the least of the Lubitsch films I've seen. I will say however that the one we seem to all be able to agree on for a newcomer is Trouble in Paradise, no?

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#70 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Nov 21, 2007 12:29 am

domino harvey wrote:I will say however that the one we seem to all be able to agree on for a newcomer is Trouble in Paradise, no?
I wouldn't hesitate on this. but my _preferred_ introduction would be "So This Is Paris". (Oh for a restored version of this gem!).

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#71 Post by vivahawks » Wed Nov 21, 2007 2:12 am

domino harvey wrote:See, though I like the film, Shop Around the Corner is easily the least of the Lubitsch films I've seen.
I'm curious why you feel that way about Shop. Did you just not enjoy the movie much or do you have a more rationalized explanation for why you didn't like it, at least comparatively speaking. For me Shop is not only Lubitsch's best but maybe my all-time favorite film: he's able to draw so much richness and complexity out of such a simple story, and the it's probably the best exploration of "normal" love (not obviously deranged destructive or all-consuming a la Vertigo or That Obscure Object of Desire for example) in movies. And since it's one of the few movies I love that everyone I know who's seen it also loves, I'm interested in what a less enamoured viewer might think of it.

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Cold Bishop
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#72 Post by Cold Bishop » Wed Nov 21, 2007 2:28 am

vivahawks wrote:best exploration of "normal" love (not obviously deranged destructive or all-consuming a la Vertigo or That Obscure Object of Desire for example) in movies.
All true loves are deranged and destructive... I've actually never got around to seeing any Lubitsch. I've started watching a few of his films, but I've always been interrupted Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie-style everytime I try. With that said, the little I saw of Shop Around The Corner I found dreadfully average, and dare I say, dreadfully "normal". Well maybe not dreadfully, but while it seems like a decent enough way to spend 90 minutes, it did perplex me as to why it's such a classic. But having not seen the whole thing, I'll reserve my judgments, and give you the benefit of the doubt, and imagine that Margaret Sullavan falls off a bell tower later in the film, and Jimmie Stewart descends into madness.

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jt
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#73 Post by jt » Wed Nov 21, 2007 7:59 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:If I had seen Ninotchka and Heaven Can Wait first, I'd probably never become a Lubitsch fan. Not the kind of things that would motivate me to seek out more of his work. Whereas Marriage Circle (my actual introduction to Lubitsch) made me a believer right from the first.
They were my first two and I love him. Different strokes for different folks I guess. I'd consider using HCW as a Lubitsch introduction, not because it's his best or most representative of his oeuvre but because it is very accessible and head-and-shoulders above 99% of similarly styled Hollywood studio pictures of that period.

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#74 Post by vivahawks » Wed Nov 21, 2007 1:20 pm

Cold Bishop wrote:
vivahawks wrote:best exploration of "normal" love (not obviously deranged destructive or all-consuming a la Vertigo or That Obscure Object of Desire for example) in movies.
All true loves are deranged and destructive....
Well I'm not sure how to respond to that. If you mean that love, like every other human emotion, holds the potential for derangement and destructiveness, sure, but I think that's pretty different from saying all "true loves" are gonna lead to cordless bungee jumping. But it's funny that we're starting to discuss love in the abstract, since to me the very point of Shop is its critique of how we treasure the idea of "true love" and the illusions that generates more than the thing itself. Not to mention that Lubitsch is quite aware of how deranged and potentially destructive these poses are, and makes that clear, if subtly so, throughout the film.
Cold Bishop wrote:the little I saw of Shop Around The Corner I found dreadfully average, and dare I say, dreadfully "normal". Well maybe not dreadfully, but while it seems like a decent enough way to spend 90 minutes, it did perplex me as to why it's such a classic. But having not seen the whole thing, I'll reserve my judgments, and give you the benefit of the doubt, and imagine that Margaret Sullavan falls off a bell tower later in the film, and Jimmie Stewart descends into madness.
It's a classic because it works completely as a romantic comedy while simultaneously probing the assumptions and implications of the form. That's why at first glance and in bits and pieces it seems so "normal": it neatly follows all the rules of the game, the meet-cute, the misunderstandings, etc, but then it taps into the real emotions behind these cliches and compares them with the cookie-cutter responses the characters and audience expect. And it does turn out to be a dangerous film and a dreadful one in the true sense, because what's worse than to find out that all your pretensions and lofty ideas about love, life, destiny, etc are trite and derivative? And like many of the greatest Hollywood films Shop wraps this dark and complex level up in the most charming and entertaining packaging possible, so you can choose for yourself whether to examine it closely or not.

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Cold Bishop
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#75 Post by Cold Bishop » Wed Nov 21, 2007 4:01 pm

vivahawks wrote:It's a classic because it works completely as a romantic comedy while simultaneously probing the assumptions and implications of the form. That's why at first glance and in bits and pieces it seems so "normal": it neatly follows all the rules of the game, the meet-cute, the misunderstandings, etc, but then it taps into the real emotions behind these cliches and compares them with the cookie-cutter responses the characters and audience expect. And it does turn out to be a dangerous film and a dreadful one in the true sense, because what's worse than to find out that all your pretensions and lofty ideas about love, life, destiny, etc are trite and derivative? And like many of the greatest Hollywood films Shop wraps this dark and complex level up in the most charming and entertaining packaging possible, so you can choose for yourself whether to examine it closely or not.
So you're saying the movie gets more interesting?

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