Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Capital Celluloid 2014 - Day 159: Mon Jun 9

The Smiling Lieutenant (Lubitsch, 1931): BFI Southbank, NFT2, 6.10pm

This film is being shown as part of the Passport to Cinema season. The movie is introduced tonight by Nathalie Morri and also screens on June 14th. Full details here.

Chicago Reader review:
This rarely shown Ernst Lubitsch musical (1931), derived from the Oscar Straus operetta The Waltz Dream, matches up Viennese lieutenant Maurice Chevalier with both Claudette Colbert (as leader of an all-woman orchestra, whom he fancies) and Miriam Hopkins (as a king's unglamorous daughter, whom he doesn't know how to refuse). Eventually everything gets resolved when Colbert teaches Hopkins how to "jazz up" her lingerie (this is pre-Production Code, in the best sense), but before this happens, the proceedings are a bit brittle—not exactly dark and funereal like Lubitsch's later The Merry Widow, but still rather heartless, what with Chevalier's forced gaiety and his sexual rejection of Hopkins. This was shot in Paramount's Astoria studio, which may explain why some of the interiors feel cramped, but it's quintessential Lubitsch in the way it suggests sexual dalliance with the brightening or darkening of a gas lamp outside a bedroom.
Jonathan Rosenabum

Here is an excerpt.

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