Yet another year with yet another update.
2012 version can be found here.
2013 version can be found here.
Two Americans sharing a flat in Paris, playwright Tom Chambers and painter George Curtis, fall for free-spirited Gilda Farrell. When she can't make up her mind which one of them she prefers, she proposes a "gentleman's agreement": She will move in with them as a friend and critic of their work, but they will never have sex. But when Tom goes to London to supervise a production of one of his plays, leaving Gilda alone with George, how long will their gentleman's agreement last?
Hilarious, frank, and opulent, Design for Living might take the easy way out with its two-lover problem, but the chemistry between the three leads guarantees a smile, and this comedy plays more like a fantasy picture anyways. I know we just met and all, but make mine Lubitsch.
Also, is it just me, or was Harry and Lloyd's fundraiser entrance from Dumb and Dumber ripped (nearly) straight from here?
David's Movie entry #4: March 17th, 2013
In Memory of David Eisen
Cooper, March, Hopkins, Lubitsch, Coward, and Hect. The opening credits ring off like a game of "20 questions" with the question being asked "What would be the perfect cast/crew for a pre-code comedy?". The two surprising crew roles that I did not have prior knowledge of before watching the film was its association to a Noel Coward play and Ben Hect being the screenwriter involved. Since watching it I have discovered that Coward's play did not necessarily have a big role for the film. Lubitsch took his story with the help of Hect and made it cinematic while making it in his own vision.
Ben Hect was a…
The agency given to Miriam Hopkins' character seems downright miraculous when viewed through a lens of time spattered with manic pixie dream girls and selfless sacrificial muses. She's whimsical, sure, but she's driven by her own sexual and emotional desires. She's a real, thinking, feeling person that gets to act and react with the men. How much of that is directly from the Coward play or the Ben Hecht screenplay, I don't know, but there it is: Another sign of what could have been had the Hayes Code not stunted the dramatic growth of Hollywood for decades to come.
I would buy underwear from Napoleon
Don't know quite what went wrong here, as the film has the rhythm and sensibility of a droll comedy of manners yet is almost never even remotely funny. I'd like to blame Noel Coward, who (in spite of my passion for Brief Encounter) has always felt to me like Oscar Wilde Lite, retaining the color and texture but very little of the flavor; virtually none of Coward's dialogue was retained, though, by most reports, and it's not as if Ben Hecht didn't know his way around fast-paced dry wit. One might note with some justification that Gary Cooper seems ill-suited to the demands of urbane mock-sophistication, but he does hold his own in e.g. Ball of Fire. In any…
I've seen a lot of these pre-code romantic comedies and the novelty of seeing dialogue with the sexual frankness of a typical Seinfeld episode being spouted by actors like Gary Cooper and Miriam Hopkins still has not worn off. Of course, a lot of Lubitsch's double (and triple, and single for that matter) entendres would make Larry David scoff, but they're still a special (and mostly historical, alas) kind of fun.
I will say that I'm not partial to these kinds of love triangle stories - I prefer my love triangles with a clear hero and villain so I know who to identify with, otherwise the whole thing can come off as either too sad to be funny or too inhuman to be believable. But this is pretty good considering.
A delightful proto-feminist work, it challenges almost every convention of romance, and inverts the perspective of most films before and since, from the male gaze to the female as desirer, chooser, objectifier. It's also quite funny.
Two men, a painter and a playwright, fall in love with a free-spirited woman who critiques their work, but they all enter a gentleman's agreement to never sleep with each other. This is, without a doubt, my favorite Lubitsch. It's the first film I've seen from him (chronologically) where Gary Cooper actually gives a performance worth noting; he doesn't sit and dial his lines in and, instead, actually seems to live a little. He is, however, far inferior to Fredric March who is a total delight as the neurotic playwright. Other than "I Married a Witch," I don't think I've seen any Fredric March comedies, so it's a shame he didn't do more (or that I haven't seen more); he's…
I would buy underwear from Napoleon
I was promised a threesome.
A perfectly enjoyable pre-Hays Code romantic threesome sex comedy that revels in a Parisian sophistication, but never really extends to anything more than fluff. Good tuxedos though.
This is actually one of the last of the Pre-Code films before the Hays Code crashed the party. It is a delightful (and rather racy) romantic-comedy about a woman completely torn between two men, who are artists who she helped make successful. Gary Cooper, Miriam Hopkins and Fredric March are all very much outstanding giving really great comic performances. Ben Hecht's screenplay (based on a Noel Coward play) is just brimming with crisp, sharp, witty dialogue (something I envy and aspire to). It is wonderful, just wonderful.
Didn't enjoy this as much as everyone else seems to have, primarily because the question of whether Tom's success (especially when his work's being satirised) assuages his longing for Gilda is more intriguing and personal than the even ground of the film's next two thirds. Personal tic I guess.
Miriam Hopkins is so damn good.
Really fun comedy that pushed some serious boundaries. The lead actors have great chemistry and it goes a long way to making the film endearing, as it might not have worked otherwise. Interesting that it has been 81 years since this movie was released and yet it's still practically unheard of to have a polyamorous relationship on screen. Must have taken a lot of balls to make this movie in 1933. Hell, it would take a lot of balls to make this movie right now.
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 165/748
Another year, another update. 2012 List can be found here.
The following is a really extensive and great list of…