Ernst Lubitsch

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Drucker
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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#76 Post by Drucker » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:34 am

Yes, agreed about the Doll and Oyster Princess being absolute delights.

I'm skipping Man I Killed. Maybe I'll regret it later, but I'm already planning on catching Angel, Marriage Circle, Merry Widow, One Hour With You, That Uncertain Feeling and now I suppose possibly Lady Windermere's Fan. Trying to whittle down what I can't get easily on home video with this series.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#77 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Jun 05, 2017 2:23 pm

No worries, I know The Man I Killed/Broken Lullaby screened in recent years at MoMA (for their series on films on World War I) and at Anthology Film Archives (a series on outlier films from various major directors' filmographies), all in 35mm, so you'll get another chance.

Coincidentally, I just found out it was more or less remade by François Ozon in a film released this year.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#78 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:00 pm

Is there some rights problem that has prevented the delightful (and very funny) So This Is Paris from ever showibng up on DVD?

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hearthesilence
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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#79 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:55 pm

David Bordwell mentioned this in a blog post:

So This Is Paris is less famous than Lubitsch’s earlier American comedies primarily because it has never appeared on DVD. Marilyn Ferdinand, in a blog entry that gives a detailed description of the film, writes that Warner Bros. claims not to own the rights to the film anymore and therefore has made no effort to bring it out on home video. On the other hand, a four-minute excerpt of the dance montage sequence was included in the Unseen Cinema set (disc 3, number 18), and the credit there is “Courtesy: Warner Bros., Turner Entertainment Company.” Whatever the rights situation is, a home-video version of this film is in order. A beautiful 35mm print is owned by the Library of Congress, so there is hope.

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htdm
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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#80 Post by htdm » Thu Jun 08, 2017 12:19 am

I agree--what a delightful film!

FWIW, for a brief period in 2003, Grapevine offered So This Is Paris? on DVD-R. When I called to place an order, the person on the phone declined telling me that they had just been served with a Cease and Desist order from Paramount and were no longer able to sell copies.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#81 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Jun 08, 2017 9:07 am

One may appreciate the brilliant first 20 minutes more if they know a bit about Rudolph Valentino and the impact he had on the culture. The part where...
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the "sheik" looks like he's examining his genitals, maybe even masturbating
...still comes off as surprisingly risqué.

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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#82 Post by javi82 » Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:38 am

hearthesilence wrote:David Bordwell mentioned this in a blog post:

So This Is Paris is less famous than Lubitsch’s earlier American comedies primarily because it has never appeared on DVD... A beautiful 35mm print is owned by the Library of Congress, so there is hope.
I saw the LOC print at my local museum several months ago. It was brilliant. The film itself definitely has the Lubitsch touch, but it doesn't scale the heights of his best work. Still, I would be all over a decent home video release.

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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#83 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Jun 08, 2017 4:01 pm

"Best" or not -- So This Is Paris (and Marriage Circle) are both near the very top of my Lubitsch list.

I would say that LOTS of STIP is on the risque side... ;-)

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Drucker
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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#84 Post by Drucker » Fri Jun 09, 2017 11:43 am

Saw Angel last night. A fun movie that clearly showcases two things Lubitsch does extraordinarily well. The first is that he takes his time outlining the central plot of a film. We really have no idea where the film is going until we're into the second reel. I often go to films after work, and so sometimes I'm restless/tired/hungry. With his films however, I'm transfixed, and totally glued to the screen, eager to see what happens next. His ability to put surprising plot points (Angel's desertion of Halton) and film them in unique ways is so simple, but works so well. That moment called into my mind another point, which I really noticed during Cluny Brown and the last scene of Ninotchka. Lubitsch's films are tremendously musical even though there are not a large amount of musical cues. Moments like the one I just mentioned fall completely silently, and make the viewer feel that all the air has been sucked out of the room. I keep thinking music stopped playing, but there hadn't necessarily been music in the previous scene, but the way his films move and progress is so musical that the silent moments feel accented.

Not a laugh out loud film, but certainly top rate and on par with most of his classics I've seen from the 1930s. Certainly calls to mind the maturity of The Shop Around The Corner.

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Drucker
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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#85 Post by Drucker » Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:07 pm

That Uncertain Feeling is an absolute gem. The film is incredibly well-focused, and unlike Cluny Brown or some of his other films, the plot kicks in pretty immediately, with a wife bored from an inattentive husband, and her falling for someone else. Melvyn Douglass is spectacular as usual, but really puts in an amazing performance here. His tone shifts from aloof to arrogant to deranged and carefree, and he pulls it off marvelously. One moment he's weeping as he's unable to part in his marriage, and the next he's pulling off hijinx in order to win her back. There are lots of touches of real black comedy here, including an absolute gasp-worthy moment
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when Douglas does a sarcastic Heil Hitler, which comes out of nowhere, but I found it even more shocking and showstopping than the famous line about Shakesepeare and Warsaw (I think?) in To Be Or Not To Be.
Superb film, which is probably the driest comedy I've ever seen from Lubitsch.

I also caught Trouble In Paradise the other day. I've nothing exceptional to add that I'm sure isn't obvious to its films admirers. For whatever reason, the first time I saw the film on DVD it did nothing for me (which was unusual for a Lubitsch film). In a theater it all came alive, however. Lubitsch's jokes are never obvious or expected, but they are exactly what they should be (the pickpocketing of the main couple for example). Probably not my favorite of his films, but clearly in the running for one of his best.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#86 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:44 pm

I wasn't sure if Cluny Brown was an exception, but it's the first Lubitsch film I've seen where there was barely a plot, much less a plot that could drive the film, it just sort of meanders. It may explain why it hasn't gotten much exposure, but it's also what makes it a pretty charming film.

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Drucker
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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#87 Post by Drucker » Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:21 am

Cluny is definitely meandering. There are a few brilliant gags, maybe three or four truly laugh out loud moments in the movie, but otherwise it's just cute and nothing more.

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Matt
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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#88 Post by Matt » Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:30 am

javi82 wrote:
hearthesilence wrote:David Bordwell mentioned this in a blog post:

So This Is Paris is less famous than Lubitsch’s earlier American comedies primarily because it has never appeared on DVD... A beautiful 35mm print is owned by the Library of Congress, so there is hope.
I saw the LOC print at my local museum several months ago. It was brilliant.
Said print is showing in Minneapolis (well, Columbia Heights, really) this Sunday at 7:30 PM.

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rockysds
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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#89 Post by rockysds » Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:46 pm

Blu-rays of One Hour With You, Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, Design for Living and If I Had a Million coming from Elysees in

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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#90 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Feb 27, 2020 1:48 pm

Is there any good quality release of Lady Windermere's Fan outside the unaffordable Treasures box set?

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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#91 Post by Ann Harding » Thu Mar 05, 2020 8:53 am

The French DVD company "Editions Montparnasse" released a good print in 2010. It's still available at cheap price.

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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#92 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Mar 05, 2020 10:33 am

Ann Harding wrote:
Thu Mar 05, 2020 8:53 am
The French DVD company "Editions Montparnasse" released a good print in 2010. It's still available at cheap price.
Thanks.

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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#93 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri May 01, 2020 11:20 am

There doesn't seem to be a Lubitsch filmmaker thread, unless I glanced past it, so I'll just put this here even though many of these don't have DVD releases.

I've finished off the Lubitsch silents barring lost films obviously, and one that doesn't seem to have subs on backchannels. I wasn't thrilled with his dramatic epics and found some of the more celebrated (The Marriage Circle) to be booming with potential, and amusing, but not as great as I'd hoped. A few thoughts on some of the earlier works:

Als ich tot war is a pretty funny screwball short where Lubitsch plays himself as a man who coasts through an absurdist existence, only to be booted from his home, after which he senselessly dresses up in disguise for a scheme to get back in his house. Lubitsch shows a knack for physical comedy as an actor here and I found his character and the details of his pathetic lunacy more entertaining than any of the actual gags or storyline.

Schulpalast Pinkus: Lubitsch stars again as an undependable goon who repeatedly fails to meet the expectations of his teachers and employers until he falls into success. This one wasn’t as smart, but he clearly had fun making it and playing the part. Some of the socially unacceptable behavior fails hard but a few others, especially his awkward hugging and eccentric posture, is good for some physical comedy laughs.

The Merry Jail: More of silly consequential farce in a manipulative male hooligan, though this film finally gives its female actors meaty parts and plenty of moments to shine. They steal the film with strong silent perfs engaging in their own kind of male-typical manipulations, and the film satirizes toxic masculinity and becomes oddly feminist for a film made over 100 years ago. The lunacy of their husband’s reaction to his prison sentence is priceless, even if he doesn’t hold a candle next to the women- though my favorite line of maybe any early Lubitsch is when he rinses his face after a long night of drinking and proclaims, “I already feel worse.”

Madame DuBarry: Epic drama that also finds rhythm as a playful sex comedy part-time. A solid restoration from MoC helped me appreciate this one on a technical level as well as notice the spark in Pola Negri’s face throughout a diverse performance.

Die Flamme is a cryptic short segment about gossiping aristocracy descending into madness over the concept of infidelity. The tension builds well in that the film begins in media res of a conversation at its boiling point and leaves it up to us to immediately meet the film on its wavelength and dissect the meaning behind action based on facial expression. This appears to be part of an actual feature but the only copy I could find runs 14 minutes, though it functions well as a slice of the pie.

Meyer aus Berlin: The opening letter hysterically jumpstarts a film about social retreat, using perceptively awkward dynamics to highlight the humor. Lubitsch gives one of his best comic performances here because he’s rooted in some relatability as a goofy surrogate. The predicaments he finds himself in feel earned, and as everyone comes to rely on him in the final act I found myself consistently amused with respect for the weaving of quiet gags through narrative rather than loud horseplay.

Romeo und Julia im Schnee might be my favorite of all his silents (except So This is Paris)... it takes the feuding families from the Shakespeare play and interprets their mutual resentment as a slapstick comedy, rendering whatever motive pointless and accentuating the buffoonery from detached objectivity. I thought this was very amusing and at times hysterical, Lubitsch taking creative measures at pinpoints key scenes in the play and lampooning them by adding his own ideas to the mix (the early ‘thumb-biting’ moment turns into a cartoonish stockpile fight of twenty or so people, for example). The final ‘psyche!-suicide’ scene is a perfect culmination to this romp. Very inspired parody on the Bard’s tragedy, where is plays like one of his very own comedies! A transformation I’m surprised no one has really attempted since.

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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#94 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri May 01, 2020 2:43 pm

How did you find the non-DVDed films? ;-)

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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#95 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri May 01, 2020 6:38 pm

Well here is Romeo and Juliet in the Snow on YouTube with English subs, in great quality (better than the copy I watched!) and that's the best of the bunch.

I know you've championed it before, Michael, but So This Is Paris is also up on YouTube for free, though it's a rough VHS rip. It's one of Lubitsch's best and funniest films, with a surreal strange opening that in its slow reveal becomes what WIlder has interpreted as the Lubitsch Touch. The early joking about infidelity and sexual adventures are also quite bold even for pre-Code! I had more fun with this in one hour than most silent films, period. Worth checking out even with the rough shape the print is in, I can't imagine many people here not loving it.

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Re: Ernst Lubitsch on DVD

#96 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri May 01, 2020 10:07 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 11:20 am
There doesn't seem to be a Lubitsch filmmaker thread, unless I glanced past it, so I'll just put this here...
Sir, I'll have you know that this IS the Lubitsch filmmaker thread!

Image

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Re: Ernst Lubitsch

#97 Post by Shrew » Fri May 01, 2020 10:26 pm

There's also a decent (english intertitled) copy of Kohlhiesels Tochter on Youtube, Lubitsch's adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew. I voted for it over Romeo and Juliet in the Snow for the Shakespeare list, mainly because I think it's the adaptation that best navigates the source's tricky sexual politics (and is also very fun). It's a bit meatier than Romeo and Juliet as well (after all, it has Emil Jannings!), and anchored by a pretty great dual performance by Henny Porten

But if we're talking best silent Lubitsch, there's no beating The Oyster Princess and Lady Windermere's Fan.

And yeah, Die Flamme is a lost film, and I think all that exists is that fragment.

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Re: Ernst Lubitsch

#98 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon May 04, 2020 7:22 pm

I've now finished off the sounds films, though I still need to complete the silent MoC set before I can call myself a completist (of non-lost films with subs).

Broken Lullaby was a surprisingly moving tale of guilt amended through carrying the unmanageable burden whilst infiltrating the harmed with empathic intent and action. I enjoyed how this action mimicked a re-traumatization of facing the battle of one's psyche walking through a metaphorical minefield of triggers for his accountability, while also reinforcing the idea that living in accordance with one's conscience promotes positivity divorced from history. The narrative leads to an extraordinary call for actualization without depending on moral growth - rather that this comes from within and doing the best one can, for his morals were always in place- it's the realization of this that becomes the key in self-acceptance. What we are left with in the final moments are a celebration of white lies and anti-catharsis, allows for the message to remain in the area of one of my favorite beliefs: that rehabilitation can also come without retribution. The ending is just lovely enough to bypass whatever implications the refusal to be honest may have on audiences- and the pre-Code qualities are clear here. Otherwise the pacing wasn't that great and neither were the performances aside from the parents. I can't say the film itself is a great one, but the concepts strung together work in hindsight, though I realize that's not a motivating recommendation to seek it out for most.

That Lady in Ermine was just awful. This is worlds apart from the other Preminger rescue job, with the only similarity being a 'period piece.' Nothing, absolutely nothing, worked here for me, not even the signature Preminger objectivity or 'beautiful' mise en scene.

That Uncertain Feeling was more in the familiar Lubitsch wheelhouse of social mannerist scheming comedy out of both time and place. Unfortunately, it's missing the laughs and charm of his other works of this period, and something just feels off. There are plenty of opportunities to deliver his auteurist strengths but the delivery beyond the already curious script just falls flat. It's an amusing little film but ultimately a failure compared to what could be a great platform for another masterpiece. The lost potential overpowered anything good about it, of which there were definitely a few cute moments.

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Re: Ernst Lubitsch

#99 Post by Michael Kerpan » Mon May 04, 2020 8:10 pm

Supposedly Uncertain Feeling was a remake of a (reportedly) much superior silent Lubitsch film.

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Re: Ernst Lubitsch

#100 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon May 04, 2020 8:36 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Mon May 04, 2020 7:22 pm
I've now finished off the sounds films, though I still need to complete the silent MoC set before I can call myself a completist (of non-lost films with subs).
Pretty much the exact same feelings here about That Uncertain Feeling - it just never really shines. Maybe it's because I'm not the biggest silent film buff, but Sumurun and The Wildcat I really found hard to get through. (Like others here, I thought The Doll and especially The Oyster Princess were great.) I'm curious about what your opinions will be.

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