The Lubitsch Touch
Musical accompaniment by Ben Model
Thursday, February 4, 2010, 1:30 p.m.
Theater 3 (The Celeste Bartos Theater), mezzanine, The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building
Includes the following films:
So This Is Paris (excerpt)
1926. USA. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. This fragment suggests that Lubitsch was making musicals even before there was sound film. Silent. Approx. 10 min.
The Marriage Circle
1924. USA. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. With Florence Vidor, Monte Blue, Marie Prevost, Adolphe Menjou. A romantic game of musical chairs (or beds) far more intricate than anything the movies had achieved before. Thanks to the Film Foundation for their help in preserving this film. Approx. 85 min.
Ernst Lubitsch (1892–1947) went from playing a Jewish clown in crude farces to becoming one of the most sophisticated directors in film history. His German career lasted nearly a decade, intermingling satirical comedies with historical spectacles. Mary Pickford summoned him to Hollywood to direct her in Rosita, a film the actress hated and tried to eradicate. (MoMA has a print of the film in spite of her best efforts.) Lubitsch decided to stay and, heavily influenced by Charles Chaplin’s A Woman of Paris, he ran off a string of excellent films that brought a large measure of European maturity to Yankee filmmaking. In the course of these efforts, he developed what became known as “the Lubitsch touch,” which, although not easily definable, has something to do with revealing his characters’ inner reality through means unavailable to any medium other than cinema—and it’s usually funny, too.
In the Film exhibition An Auteurist History of Film
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