Wednesday, May 10, 2006

More Lubitsch

Sorry I haven't been posting much in the way of original material lately; while I'm trying to put something together, here are some more snippets from Ernst Lubitsch films:

1. "Beyond the Blue Horizon" from Monte Carlo (1930) -- this is one of the most influential musical numbers ever filmed (Frank Tashlin drew on it for that Hollywood or Bust number I posted earlier), an early example of how a film musical could go beyond a filmed record of a performer delivering a song, and actually achieve things that a stage musical could not -- in this case, the whimsical and fanciful effect of having people wave to Jeanette MacDonald from outside the train. The weakness of the number is Lubitsch's usual weakness as a director of musicals: he seemed to have very little interest in letting a song make a big impact in and of itself, so the song gets two brief refrains and then, without any real buildup or climax, it's over. Still, this is movie-musical history being made here.

2. The title song from One Hour With You -- Lubitsch didn't actually direct all of this musical remake of his film The Marriage Circle (George Cukor started the film, but Lubitsch finished it), but he produced it and supervised Samson Raphaelson's script, and it's a Lubitsch film in every way, though not quite up to the standard of Lubitsch's other Maurice Chevalier musicals (or Mamoulian's Love Me Tonight). This number is one of the best parts of the film, a fine example of how Lubitsch never liked to let the plot get lost even during a musical number: here the plot keeps moving forward, as we have a series of complications -- MacDonald thinks Chevalier is interested in another woman at the party, not realizing that her best friend (Genevieve Tobin) is the one who's actually pursuing Chevalier -- that are advanced in the middle of all the music and dancing, as well as in Leo Robin's lyrics.

3. And finally, a short clip from One Hour With You involving Adolph (Charlie Ruggles) and his valet, who delivers the line that gets the biggest laugh in the entire movie:


Anonymous said...

Where did you find the clip of Monte Carlo? I've been trying to see that movie for years - it's not on DVD and even TCM didn't play it during Jeannette MacDonald month.

npetrikov said...

The funniest line, yes. But Ruggles's double take is exactly right; neither too much nor too little.