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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 3:04 pm 
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I agree with you, Shreck, that Applause is a great film, but I also think it's Mamoulian's only one. It was obviously his most personal film, drawn from his own experiences on the stage, and this gives it a dramatic authenticity. And then, of course, Mamoulian was a talented man of many great ideas, most of which he brought out in Applause. But I don't think he was a great director, because when he ran out of ideas, he couldn't make good films anymore. He was a conceptual artist but not a very good craftsman. You can start to see this in Love Me Tonight where he stumbles between the fantastic set pieces. And then by Queen Christina, where he has to treat a story that's entirely not his, he's embarrassingly bad.

I agree with you that Lubitsch never filmed (or even tried to) the "Human Monster." His greatness lies in his formal qualities: the way he could edit on a dime, bring out the tiniest details and evoke the slightest of emotions in medium shots, create musical numbers without the music from the internal rhythmn of his sequences (such as the 76 instances of characters opening and closing doors, windows and curtains in The Love Parade).

That reminds me of a supposed exchange between Lubitsch and Hawks:

"Howard, how can you make two or three reels about a man shooting a gun?"

"I don't know, Ernst. How can you make two or three reels about a man walking through doors?"


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 7:18 pm 

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GringoTex wrote:
And then, of course, Mamoulian was a talented man of many great ideas, most of which he brought out in Applause.

I just saw City Streets at UCLA, and that's pretty good - maybe not great, but quite enjoyable.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 8:40 pm 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
How does Student Prince fare -- in comparison to Merry Widow?

Michael, I'm a huge fan of Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, but I don't think it makes for a very apt comparison with Merry Widow. As a silent, Student Prince works primarily as a light romantic comedy -- further reinforcing Jaime's assertion that Lubitsch viewed musicals primarily as comedies. But without musical numbers of any sort, I wouldn't suggest going in to a viewing of Student Prince with Merry Widow as your frame of reference. It's also not particularly risque, but I'd say it's closest parallel would be something like Design for Living.

The fact of the matter, however, is that Student Prince is really an amalgam of Lubitsch and MGM. Apparently, Irving Thalberg ordered some reshoots after he was unsatisfied with some of Lubitsch's more eliptical touches -- though he may very well have just wanted to show off Norma Shearer to better effect (they were married just after the film was released). If you like Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer, however, it's extremely enjoyable, and it's an instance where the usual MGM gloss helps propel the story (as in some of Cukor's work) rather than serves as a distraction.

By the way, I agree entirely with the idea that Heaven Can Wait is a good litmus test for just how far one is willing to go with Lubitsch. I happen to like it, just as I happen to like Hatari for that matter.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 8:53 pm 
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Try Hatari is peak Hawks, surely. Thematically the group, the professionalism and the team, intersecting with some tightly developed personal relationships. And it creates a decpetively relaxed atmosphere through pacing and rhythm -p laying this of course is incredibly hard work to get on screen. It's perfect Hawks.

Heaven is far from perfect Lube, unless, I think, your sole frame of reference is a story about ageing with sluggish pace, uneven acting and very little life. Compare it to Shop Around the Corner - yet another Miklos Laszlo story - casting is pitch perfect. And tone is razor sharp. Heaven seems terribly broad and one dimensional in comparison.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 11:20 pm 
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Time for me to say Heaven Can Wait is my favorite again. I do like Hatari! though not the best out of all of Hawks-like it


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 4:42 pm 
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Adam wrote:
GringoTex wrote:
And then, of course, Mamoulian was a talented man of many great ideas, most of which he brought out in Applause.

I just saw City Streets at UCLA, and that's pretty good - maybe not great, but quite enjoyable.

I absolutely adore City Streets. I think, like Jekyll & Hyde and Applause, it's a truly excellent film. It's strengths to me lie not only in the idea that this is a man whose preceding pictures bore absolutely no similarity to it, not only in the extreme richness of the black humor and cynicism (and huge sense of street cool and authenticity), but in the depth of sincerity in the melodrama between Cooper and Sydney. Mamoulian took the gangster form that Warner - Vita were pounding away at with Little Caesar & Public Enemy and created something far more cinematic and genuine. To this day I can't watch Sydney's performance, her rendering of her characters journey towards a kind of redemption-- and Coopers reverse arc-- without getting misty (and it's not just because this gal was so damned gorgeous with one of the best bodies in Hollywood). The richness of the moods, the stunning montage, the wonderful moving camera, the street jive... to me it just doesn't get any better than City Streets.

This films admirers will multiply geometric-like once someone takes this thing outa rights limbo and releases it. It's a precode Paramount, so my guess is it's in Universals' fucking hamper (or rice bin).

And Gringo, I agree with you on Queen Christina. Starting with that film, for some reason, it's all over for Mam's run of "pantheon" level greatness. I saw that film on a double bill at the NYC Thalia w Sternbergs Empress (can you imagine the contrast?) expecting greatness, and was delivered a dog. What a big pile of Nothing.

Nothing bugs me more (just for starters, in terms of whats wrong w Queen C) than films like this one, or Streisand's Yentl, or Czinner's As You Like It, when some well-beloved public darling actress at a high point decides she's going to play the role of a man, yet is so vain that she wont allow herself to be seen with no makeup, so the end result is utterly highvoiced, pretty, and completely absurd and unbelieveable. The whole thing is, truly embarassing.

Can't remember the name of the flick right now, but a noble exception from the classic era is a K Hepburn film where she ripped every stitch of makeup off her face, dressed and acted VERY close to a dude.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 4:56 pm 
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HerrSchreck wrote:
Can't remember the name of the flick right now, but a noble exception from the classic era is a K Hepburn film where she ripped every stitch of makeup off her face, dressed and acted VERY close to a dude.

That'd be Sylvia Scarlett, in which Hepburn seems to be uncannily channeling Bowie.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 5:10 pm 
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Morgan Creek wrote:
HerrSchreck wrote:
Can't remember the name of the flick right now, but a noble exception from the classic era is a K Hepburn film where she ripped every stitch of makeup off her face, dressed and acted VERY close to a dude.

That'd be Sylvia Scarlett, in which Hepburn seems to be uncannily channeling Bowie.

Off the topic of Lubitsch now, but Sylvia Scarlett is without a doubt my favorite Cukor. It's fucking awesome.

Carry on.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 5:14 pm 
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Morgan Creek wrote:
HerrSchreck wrote:
Can't remember the name of the flick right now, but a noble exception from the classic era is a K Hepburn film where she ripped every stitch of makeup off her face, dressed and acted VERY close to a dude.

That'd be Sylvia Scarlett, in which Hepburn seems to be uncannily channeling Bowie.

Bingo, and BINGO. I remember thinking the Bowie angle when I saw it (my girlfriend owns the 100th BDay Hepburn box in which this is contained).

Hep's deep voice, greater overall commitment to "serious acting", created a far more believable result than the above mentioned pics.

Anyhoo, back to Lubitsch!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:20 pm 
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Kate also scrubs off makeup for her last film with Cukor Love Among the Ruins.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:51 pm 

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HerrSchreck wrote:
This films admirers will multiply geometric-like once someone takes this thing outa rights limbo and releases it. It's a precode Paramount, so my guess is it's in Universals' fucking hamper (or rice bin).

Definitely Universal. It was opening night of a Universal Pre-Code series at UCLA that is still going on, so you can check out the details on the UCLA Film & TV Archive website.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:08 pm 
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That's good to hear. I have a boot of it which is consistent with (but slightly superior to) several other boots of precode Paramount, like American Tragedy, all of which titles appeared, I thought to have left the Uni copyright spectrum and fallen into a rights black hole where they just float around the ether in ragged kinescopes.

City Streets IS very nice indeed. But still again Mamoulian is someone to me without any distinct directorial personality. He's a more than competent, and sometimes brilliant metteur en scene but his projects always seem to say to me "here's what's been done with this genre, now I'll take the expressive limits of these just a bit further and show you how clever I am" - thus Love me Tonight borrowing from Clair to an American context and milieu, but showing nothing like, for instance the central integration Clair makes of the boulevardier tradition with "realism" and with the integration of song into the narrative.

On that score the Lube musicals are also auteurially superior, in the end.
Even if I'm not that fond of them, I have to honor their formal consistency and their impact as an expression and extension of Lubitsch's already highly developed cinematic personality.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:02 am 
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I disagree on most fundamental points here. I feel that the formal consistency that you honor is a hiding place from which Lubitsch almost never strayed, and that this consistency rarely shows sparkle, innovation, or depth as a "director", and thus the end result is not very highly cinematic to me, personally.

Auteurism for a man like Lubitsch to me is problemmatic when assigning it a quality of honor. In reality he shows a style that worked for him, and repeats it... with very few true resounding masterpieces of the type we're talking here. If Mamoulian says "here's what's been done with this genre, now I'll take the expressive limits of these just a bit further and show you how clever I am"... then Lubitsch says "here's what I've done with this genre, I-- with this studio gumming my thumbs & licking my boots and giving my everything and everything-- will now take this no further and show you just how narrow my idea of cinema is."

And I don't agree with the assessment of Mamoulian-- most of the genres he toyed with, starting with 1929's Applause, were either nonexistent at the time or in their absolute infancy; and what he did with them (in my opinion, of course) is not take them just a bit further, but turn them into absolutely sublime cinema. Real, eternal high art cinema with depth and well assembled breadth. And such wildly divergent projects, which are astonishingly different from the "genres" that were just then being established... this may make Mam the person-- the auteur-- more difficult to track or pin down within the text (though certainly the deft deeply felt montage, the wonderfully moving camera, the sense of the avant garde and the wonderful use of multiple narrative surfaces assigning unscripted values to progressing elements within his melodramatic arc and symbol order, identify a clear style running thru), I think this is a plus, something to be hugely admired, meeting the challenge of crafting masterpieces out of wildly divergent projects assigned. Kind of an avant garde, self-reflexive John Ford. It's just a shame that he clashed so severely with the bosses in the mid 30's. When he got back into the swing he was handed technicolor grot.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:44 am 
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Well these arguments are always interesting. And I hope they lead to further discussion.

Even though I don't care for this genre of froufrou musical with which Lubitsch made his transition to sound I still have to concede they show a clear link to his great earlier work - notably Marriage Circle, So this is Paris (and more.) And of course you can see in the texture of the movies the same personality investing masterpieces like Trouble in P or Design for Living with the same attention. But here at least with the addition of musical numbers and sound, I feel he's forced to shape his mise en scene - at least for Love Parade - into a relatively static form. But this doesn't make it less cinematic, I don't believe. Lubitsch is one of those directors who can film people entering and leaving rooms in medium shot (so is Cukor or Dreyer) and really completely realize both the meanings of the text and the formal qualities they require through such "simple" means.

Mamoulian seems to me never to be content to leave well enough alone, thus the Clairesque camera movements and cutaways in Love Me Tonight. But he just keeps piling it on, rather than letting things like fine performance details or atmosphere speak out for themselves.

Anyway it's always a minefield when one is trying - in my case anyway - to justify personal preferences, quite apart from the auteurially acknowledged canonically annointed.

(Chirst! how many adverbs in THAT?)


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:23 am 
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I just realized I never chimed in with thoughts on One Hour With You. I thought the song about wedding rings at the beginning was one of the best in the set, maybe the dirtiest song of all. Adolph and the Professor looked so much alike that I occasionally got confused. The abundance of audience interaction in this one got a little weary by the end. Still, funnier than the Smiling Lieutenant.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:54 am 
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It's all good, brother. I try to flag my comments that might piss people off (and those that wouldnt, though one never knows) with the disclaimer "this is only my opinion". Same as you.

The true history of cinema is too large for any one mind or textbook to carry around with any potential for meaningful exposition or digestion.. thus there are a thousand and one different histories of cinema, with each person having their own shining stars. I know you have your own very eclectic (at least as eclectic as my own, but with a probably morebroader-sweep sense of appreciation of a wider field of films) tastes in cinema.

Re Lubitsch in particular, I'm of two minds when it comes to his style and career: whenever someone complains about an artist, any artist, that their last work is similar to their penultimate (or earlier) work, it perplexes me. If a person is highly original, develops their own style which echoes the noise that the inside of their brain is making when all is quiet... that's about the best one can hope for. An artist staying true to their inner voice.

Film is a bit different, than say a popular music artist who is writing his own material-- particularly in the golden era. Few experienced the freedom Lubitsch had. So, before describing the converse nature of my "other mind" I'd say

to be honest, I can take or leave Love Me Tonight-- it cracked me up, but I've watched it once and never returned to it. The same way I never return to most Lubitsch. Comedy/drama is one thing, but lite comedy tends to be fun at first or second view until all the jokes are memorized or anticipated. If there's nothing left, and the style is invisible and devoid of depper substance, there's just nothing left. In my life I came very late to Keaton, Chaplin, Lloyd, Lubitsch to a degree, etc. Even more sophisticated material like the best of Sturges may get an annual view at most. The movies that strike me the heaviest are the movies that, well strike me the heaviest. I don't find Lubitsch anywhere near as funny as, say Jean Vigo, and he doesn't have any of the meaning, the substance, the wonderful eternal poetry for me to see him as a Grand Master the way others do. And his truly captial G Great Comedies are too few and far between for me to see his consistency as something worth a huge salute. It may well be a black mark against him. In the past when just starting to sing I had a tendency to avoid moments of direct intimacy with my voice-- I'd slip into a "cool" or streety phrasing. An old drummer friend kept pointing out how I'd keep scooping with my phrasing, and indicated those rare moments where I allowed myself to open up and how much they worked and got to him. It was a revelation, and I broke the protective shield and my work became more complete.

Which takes me to my other mind about following the inner voice. On one hand Lubitsch is true to his inner voice... but his vocabulary was small. Very small. And he never really sought to expand it, or at least find a way to do so in a way that meant anything beyond the surprising moment of poignancy during a melancholic goodbye during the close of a ribald drawing room comedy. Considering the length of his career, and the great carte blanche granted to him, and the millieu from which he hatched, I think his formal qualities are pretty rudiementary given the fact that they seemed to progress hardly at all. Even John Ford, another anti-avant enemy of the self-reflexive, whose style was very difficult to pin down or detect, showed an ambition in his films and a recognition of the vast vocabulary and means of punctuation, all the glorious surfaces, etc, available to him. So while Lubitsch can be great fun and a hoot-- don't get me wrong-- in terms of cinema I walk away with very little more than a good time.

And on many terms that's good enough. As it should be. But when laid against the incisive sincerity and overhwelming originality of Applause, City Streets, and Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde-- and, for many I guess, Love Me Tonight-- and their maker during those years, for me there's just no comparison. Mamoulian, brand new to the cinema, from the getgo showed he could hang perfectly comfortably in Lubitsch's zone of operation. Whereas the vocabulary of the first three above are completely out of the depth range of Lubitsch. The rich vocabulary with the camera and the cutting knife, the complexity, black sophistication of humor, the sublime poetry, street sense were as alien to the hurdy gurdy nature of Lube as roller skates to a crippled giraffe.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:06 am 
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THe shining example of someone who invented at least one genre (the crime film, if not also the chiraoscuro melodrama), gave poetry to many more and then took them into outer space is of course the Von.

And when his Hollywood career was effectively finished, barely six years later, wiped out by bad blood with Lubitsch no less (among others) he was reduced to turning in shit like Sergeant Madden (not seen) and King Steps Out (Seen in 16mm) which is probably closer to theose unspeakable Norman Z MacLeod MGM Nelson Eddy/Jeanette abortions than anything else around in this discussion. I saw this one night in 1972 at Gay LIb HQ in a firehouse at 99 Wooster Street which one very smart Queen had brought in while working PT at COlumbia - Vito Russo no less. While it is NOT prime Sternberg it neverthless goes through the motions completely credibly, and in the process he manages to invest enitrely personal touches to it, like a crane shot from afar right into Grace Moore's throat while she trills some horror or other (Anton Walbrook voice as Lermon.) The gag and the sly wink is there for all to see and enjoy for all eternity.

This is a signature moment from a very great director in a totally negligible film, but I feel it expresses the difference between someone with only technique, and someone with a cinematic personality. All through their various ups and downs.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 12:16 pm 

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HerrSchreck wrote:
Comedy/drama is one thing, but lite comedy tends to be fun at first or second view until all the jokes are memorized or anticipated. If there's nothing left, and the style is invisible and devoid of depper substance, there's just nothing left.

I don't think comedy is inherently less substantial than drama, though I suspect that this is pretty commonly believed now even among directors who claim to love comedy. (There used to be many celebrated directors who would proudly make straightforward romantic comedies with happy endings, and get acclaimed for it. Now that kind of comedy is mostly made by hacks and the good directors make kinda-sorta comedies with kinda-sorta happy endings. Though the good, solid, substantial comedy may be starting to make a comeback of sorts.) That's a matter of personal taste, of course.

But I will say that I don't really agree with your statement that Lubitsch was never willing to stretch himself. Of course after the mid-'20s he primarily worked within the romantic-comedy genre with its built-in rules (except for The Man I Killed which not only sucks, but suggests to me what John L. Sullivan's Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou? might have been like). But within that genre, he was constantly trying different things and themes, maybe more so than most comedy directors. It's not like after succeeding with Ninotchka (not one of his better movies anyway) he kept on returning to that well; The Shop Around the Corner is an exploration of the workplace life, To Be Or Not to Be is a very different type of political comedy from Ninotchka and Heaven Can Wait is a strange attempt to do a plotless story of a man whose life was of no apparent worth at all.

Whether you like those individual movies or not, there's a different reason for doing each one and a different idea they're exploring, which was probably more important to Lubitsch than the camera setups. (Again, we're talking about the odd case of a director whose style shows more distinctively in the actors' performances than in the way they're photographed.) And since most Lubitsch comedies are based on a theme that runs through most of the scenes and jokes (the intersection of music and sex in Smiling Lieutenant, theft and crime in Trouble in Paradise, workplace experience in Shop, politics-as-theatre in To Be), I think that gives them greater weight and substance than you give them credit for.

davidhare wrote:
Mamoulian is someone to me without any distinct directorial personality. He's a more than competent, and sometimes brilliant metteur en scene but his projects always seem to say to me "here's what's been done with this genre, now I'll take the expressive limits of these just a bit further and show you how clever I am" - thus Love me Tonight borrowing from Clair to an American context and milieu, but showing nothing like, for instance the central integration Clair makes of the boulevardier tradition with "realism" and with the integration of song into the narrative.

What I think Love Me Tonight has over the other early musicals is the way Mamoulian managed to combine his own directorial personality with truly great songs. Clair and Lubitsch and other early musical directors did not usually work with songs of the quality and substance of Rodgers and Hart's, but used songs that would not distract from the action. (Even if Lubitsch was given a hit song like "Beyond the Blue Horizon" he'd cut it down to only a minute and a half. He was not about to let the songwriters take over the movie.) By working closely with Rodgers and Hart, Mamoulian was able to insert long, substantial musical sequences where the songs are the centre of attention -- when you have a song as good as "Isn't It Romantic?" it's hard for anything else to be the focus -- yet the storytelling, camerawork, etc. don't just stop for the song. That's a genuine milestone, I think, especially because Mamoulian would carry these lessons with him to Broadway and revolutionize the stage musical, and in turn these things trickled back into Hollywood. When you see a "golden age" musical where the best scenes are perfect fusions of staging and songwriting, instead of the song just supporting the staging or vice-versa, you're seeing the legacy of Mamoulian.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 4:15 am 
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Jaime I wouldn't take exception to anything you've said except for

Quote:
Whether you like those individual movies or not, there's a different reason for doing each one and a different idea they're exploring, which was probably more important to Lubitsch than the camera setups. (Again, we're talking about the odd case of a director whose style shows more distinctively in the actors' performances than in the way they're photographed.) And since most Lubitsch comedies are based on a theme that runs through most of the scenes and jokes (the intersection of music and sex in Smiling Lieutenant, theft and crime in Trouble in Paradise, workplace experience in Shop, politics-as-theatre in To Be), I think that gives them greater weight and substance than you give them credit for.

I DO give them credit, as I said. On their own terms they are absolutely positively good enough: well thought out comedy melodramas which absorb you fully and completely (the good ones anyhoo) and send you out in a good mood. You have a good time. And in certain terms there's nothing more to ask of a nights entertainment.

What I said is that the achievement pales for me only when compared to the near (short term, at least) revolution of Mamoulian in from Applause to Love Me/Jekyll/City Streets. There are wavering degrees of credit attributed to various projects, which will tweak according to emotional response.

To me the kind of comedy that murders me is the comedy of Zero De Conduit, L'Atalante, Chaplin's City Lights, Loyds Safety Last or Haunted Spooks, Keaton's The General. Mystery of the Leaping Fish. I return to Plan Nine From Outer Space almost bimonthly. I give the very best of Lubitsch maybe an annual go round.

In the the cave of my Taste Register, my simple saying that "this stuff is not Fanaticalville for me" doesn't mean I don't think there's no excellence there.

All based on tastes of course.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 1:29 pm 
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DVD Savant review


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Quote:
(Again, we're talking about the odd case of a director whose style shows more distinctively in the actors' performances than in the way they're photographed.)

A false opposition, I think. Much of the "Lubitsch touch" resides in the way he coordinates his actors' gestures and his cutting style -- with great precision. I would say the art direction and overall mise en scène associated with Lubitsch is distinctive as well (the high ceilings and overall play with extremes of size, the aggressive use of backlighting) but plainly not as distinctive as, say, Sternberg.

Another major component of the "Lubitsch touch" is the playful narration (narration in the narratological sense, not the VO sense) -- an overt game of chance and expectation played with the audience, emblematized in the shatterings of the fourth wall in, say, THE LOVE PARADE.

Of course yet another element is the continental insouciance and sexual frankness.

Any others to add?


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 10:51 pm 
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Yes I would agree with everything you have to say. There's also the level to which Lube involves himself in his actor's performances, which usually ensures a certain defineable tone - in vocal inflection, pacing, gesture etc. He's definitely the only director in the history of movies who could ever make me like Miriam Hopkins. And none of his characters is ever behind the eight ball - they're all up to the mark, like the director himself - take Kay Francis in Trouble or both Colbert and McDonald in Smiling Lieutenant.

When he does lose the music as a narrative propellant later in the 30s and gets into flawlesssly written Raphelsoin material like Trouble and Shop Around the Corner, given perfect casting the results are simply two masterpieces. Ditto To be or Not to be. Something like Nintochka falls flat to me for several reasons - not least Garbo. The next problem is it's simply not funny. I have never laughed out loud at anything in it. I am also not sure the Wilder/Brackett screenplay is best matched by Lubistch and his core focus on actors and performance. In any case the movie looks frankly second rate against Leisen's Midnight, another Wilder Brackett screenplay and in this case you have a director far less honored than Lubitsch, completely overtaking an already fine screenply and without ever "softening the edges", adding immeasurably to it in tone and style and and a highly detailed mise en scene (in the purely visual sense.)

But that's another hobbyhorse.


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jonah.77 wrote:
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(Again, we're talking about the odd case of a director whose style shows more distinctively in the actors' performances than in the way they're photographed.)

A false opposition, I think. Much of the "Lubitsch touch" resides in the way he coordinates his actors' gestures and his cutting style -- with great precision. I would say the art direction and overall mise en scène associated with Lubitsch is distinctive as well (the high ceilings and overall play with extremes of size, the aggressive use of backlighting) but plainly not as distinctive as, say, Sternberg.

Another major component of the "Lubitsch touch" is the playful narration (narration in the narratological sense, not the VO sense) -- an overt game of chance and expectation played with the audience, emblematized in the shatterings of the fourth wall in, say, THE LOVE PARADE.

Of course yet another element is the continental insouciance and sexual frankness.

Any others to add?

I think there's a bit of over-attribution here based on love. Tight cutting in and of itself isn't really a "directorial style", neither are continental insouciance or sexual frankness. Tight (not necc "rapid") cutting is a requirement for any kind of a "finished" feeling film of value, and can exist within any number of directorial styles, like "good photography" or "good acting". The latter are cinematic styles or genres, which any number of directors have approached with a huge variance of personal style. These are the zones in ascript which one begins with, before one even sets down to think about deploying cast or crew in whatever positions are chosen. I'd go so far as saying Lubitsch's whole topical obsession with the drawing room and the upper bourgoisie is not only NOT a directorial style, but may have actually prevented him from branching out into zones that could have upped the number of truly memorable films the man produced after the mid-30's (and perhaps forced him into deeper contact with himself, maybe get down with something a little but more personally meaningful, but it never really happened.)


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 11:25 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am
HerrSchreck wrote:
I think there's a bit of over-attribution here based on love. Tight cutting in and of itself isn't really a "directorial style", neither are continental insouciance or sexual frankness. Tight (not necc "rapid") cutting is a requirement for any kind of a "finished" feeling film of value, and can exist within any number of directorial styles, like "good photography" or "good acting".

This is all true in regard to the idea of tight cutting in general, but Lubitsch's tight cutting is specific- hence, a style. His tight cutting means he never allows his characters to think or ponder on a situation, to reflect on moral positions, or to assess their surroundings. And he loves the ellipse. It's very similar to Hawks, but whereas Hawks' characters are too busy doing something for the luxury of self-reflection, Lubitsch's characters are too busy doing nothing. (this is why I consider Hawks and Lubitsch the most atheist of filmmakers- it never occurs to them to even ponder the existence of a higher being).

Again, I want to point out that as tight as Lubitcsh cuts, he always makes room for a character to enter a room and to leave it. His is a style of transience.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 2:26 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2008 1:45 pm
The ten year old Universal laserdisc set, The Lubitsch Touch, had a slightly different transfer of "One Hour With You". Several scenes were tinted, mostly sepia with a few in blue. Also, there were about two minutes of exit music. These have been omitted from the Eclipse set. Anyone know why?
By the way, this is not a complaint, because I am thoroughly delighted with the Eclipse set and have watched it several times already, putting off other recent purchases. Sorry, Captain Jack!


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