The passing years have only improved this once-knocked reworking of Noel Coward’s (in)famous play. Helmer Ernst Lubitsch made unrivaled romantic-comedies, seasoning them with a tart dose of irony, and his sole collaboration with Ben Hecht (of the rat-a-tat dialogue & bracing sarcastic wit) shouldn’t work, but does. Like the broken typewriter in the story, ‘it rings, it rings!’ The story has Miriam Hopkins turning muse to Coop’s painter (very André Derain) and March’s playwright (veddy Coward), but with no sex allowed. But tumble she does . . . twice. And since she loves them equally, she runs off to marry a stolid fellow with zero sex appeal . . . enter Edward Everett Horton. Can this man be dumped? Can this illicit triangle be saved? And should a girl have to choose between such riches?* Extra points for the opening scene, a ‘meet-cute’ in untranslated French. Coop boasts respectable tourist French, Hopkins rattles away, March keeps quiet. And watch for a particularly hilarious Lubitsch ‘touch’ which plays out over a honeymoon night and reveals an unexpected sexual urge from Everett Horton.
*March was certainly a handsome fellow in ‘33, but when Coop shows up in formal gear with his hair slicked down, it’s as if an entire era of manliness & ravishment has been personified. Devastating.
READ ALL ABOUT IT: Ben Hecht wrote a charmingly funny, if suspect, sketch of working with Lubitsch that was included in Herman Weinberg's THE LUBITSCH TOUCH. The book itself is well-meaning, but its scholarship and opinions have dated badly.