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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

ONE HOUR WITH YOU (1932)

Though much acclaimed in its day (Oscar® nom for Best Pic & a nasty credit fight from demoted original director George Cukor), this typically frothy, typically naughty Ernst Lubitsch musical for Maurice Chevalier & Jeanette MacDonald now looks like a mere sorbet between meatier efforts. Chevalier & Lubitsch had last met on their enchantingly sweet, emotionally resonant THE SMILING LIEUTENANT/’31 and they’d reunite with MacDonald @ M-G-M for their grand finale, THE MERRY WIDOW/’34. But Chevalier & MacDonald would first do LOVE ME TONIGHT/’32 under Rouben Mamoulian, a near-masterpiece made just as Lubitsch was shooting the sublime TROUBLE IN PARADISE/’32. It all puts ONE HOUR somewhat in the shade. But it’s modest fun, if a bit stiff on its feet in the early Talkie manner. A loose adaptation of THE MARRIAGE CIRCLE/’24, the first comedy of manners, marriage & mores to display the full ‘Lubitsch Touch,’ this film got a quick rewrite, via Samson Raphaelson, while Lubitsch finished THE MAN I KILLED (an uneven, if fascinating straight drama). In this one, Chevalier & MacDonald play a happily married pair who still neck in the park & even sleep in the same bed. (Take that, Production Code!) But who’s that flirt going after Maurice? Why it’s Genevieve Tobin, Jeanette’s best friend. And that eunuch hounding Jeanette? It’s Maurice's good pal, Charlie Ruggles in the film’s funniest perf. Is mutual infidelity a sort of sexual double negative? Lubitsch Ethics 101.

NOTE: Our poster is from the French-language version, filmed concurrently on the same sets, but with different supporting players.

DOUBLE-BILL: Just choose from the films mentioned above. Make it a festival!

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