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.
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 would buy underwear from Napoleon
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.
The most persuasive argument that people had sex before 1965 that I've ever seen.
Criminally underrated Lubitsch effort that stands up to his very best. I first saw this at the Turner Classic Movie Festival and I was floored by its sexy pre-code humor, general intelligence, and by Miriam Hopkins who steals the show. Upon watching the British television version of the original Noel Coward play (included as a bonus feature on the Criterion DVD), I realized just how much Ernst Lubitsch and Ben Hecht improved upon the original.
Absolutely essential viewing for pre-code and Lubitsch fans. Most highly recommended for everyone else.
There are a lot of classic Hollywood movies that, on some level, are about fucking. Of course, they can't show the characters fucking, or show them naked, or even say the words "fuck", or "screw", or "bang", or "ball" (and yet anyone at any time in any era in any social situation can sing "Balling the Jack" without fear of reprisal...hypocrisy?), but at heart, they're about fucking. To appease the mores and censors of the time, writers and filmmakers adorned the fucking in enough innuendo, suggestion, symbolism, and adult wit that you could watch it with your grandmother or your kid and not think, "Boy, this is a really dirty movie about fucking." Comedy or drama, the sexual urge manifests…
The Lubitsch touch is for real. I loved this just as much as Trouble in Paradise, which is saying quite a lot. All three actors are so charming, especially Miriam Hopkins.
Somehow, I expected a Pre-Code comedy about a happy threesome co-habitating in Paris to be more salacious than it was. And I expected more Lubitsch Touch magic. But I didn't love any of the characters and found the whole romance to be sort of unconvincing. I did like how totally committed Gilda was to being in love with both men, even if they were a little cool to the idea. Maybe we should just stick with the original Noel Coward play.
”Immorality may be fun, but it isn't fun enough to take the place of one hundred percent virtue and three square meals a day.
When it comes to screwball comedies Ernst Lubitsch is one of the first names to pop into your head. Even a couple of days ago I watched To Be or Not To Be and really enjoyed it. The film has its flaws but once it warms up, it becomes a riot. Everything I had seen from him was pretty much a hit, so that made me really excited to see this picture. It had a good reputation and a stellar cast. A surprising cast that was, since its both lead men were not exactly…
What a dream (getting to sleep with two men at once)!
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…
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 186/760 (24%)
Another year, another update. 2012 List can be found here.
The following is a really extensive and great list of…