“Angel” (1937) tells the story of the typical love triangle between a wife, her husband and her lover. Marlene Dietrich excels in this role, and Herbert Marshall is effective, too, as her husband, but Melvyn Douglas is simply unconvincing as the lover. I would have chosen Douglas as the husband, instead. Though his acting is usually good (see “Ninotchka”, for instance), Douglas is not particularly suitable for the “great lover” parts. He is somehow aloof and aristocratic as Marshall, but to me, Marshall is physically more appealing. Dietrich simply steals the show, and she wears some magnificent costumes, too. The film, directed by Ernst Lubitsch in his incomparable style, is very realistic to the lifestyle of high class people in the 30s. Beautiful, young, sophisticated wives married to boring aristocrats, diplomats or businessmen, and trying to live their life as mistresses – some of them having a child or none with their respective husbands. Dietrich manages to play very well the role of the unfulfilled wife and desirable woman, sometimes assuming false or double identity to find moments of happiness and sentimental fulfillment. Even if the film is not particularly original (there have been lots of films in the 1930s on the problem of love triangles; see also “Bella Donna”, an extremely rare British production from 1934, starring Conrad Veidt, Mary Ellis and John Stuart), it does have the glamour of the Hollywoodian productions between the two World Wars. So, I recommend “Angel” (Dietrich’s character’s pseudonym) to the fans of Marlene Dietrich and to all those who love good, old, black-and-white productions.
A delightful comedy in the unique style of Ernst Lubitsch, “Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife” stars the legendary Gary Cooper, Claudette Colbert, and David Niven. The film’s daring plot reminded me of Lubitsch’s pre-code productions – most of them romantic comedies, such as “Trouble in Paradise” and “Design for Living”. This time, the hero, Michael Brandon (Cooper), is a definitive Don Juan, married already seven times! His eighth wife, Nicolle de Loiselle (Colbert), the daughter of a Marquis (played by the talented Edward Everett Horton) wants to teach him a lesson, and thus she apparently becomes involved with a former lover, Albert de Regnier (Niven). The romantic scenes are exciting, and the costumes are superb. In fact, most of Lubitsch’s films look so well on the screen because the actresses are exquisitely dressed, and the backgrounds are elegant, as well. The stories directed by Lubitsch involve, most of the times, aristocrats and common people who pretend to have a superior status than in reality, and also businessmen and businesswomen (see Kay Francis in “Trouble in Paradise”). “Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife” tells the complicated love story of a tycoon and an aristocrat, and this makes the film even more sophisticated. In contrast with Frank Capra, Ernst Lubitsch usually preferred not to depict the clash of the social classes (the rich and the poor), but the combination between them. In Lubitsch’s films, nobody seems to be really poor, and everybody simply has a wonderful time. There is a sense of entertainment, as if you would know that the actors are just playing games and having fun, loving and hating each other to make the public laugh and maybe forget about their difficulties. You will certainly enjoy this film, like the rest of Lubitsch’s unique productions. An excellent, tasteful comedy in the good old Hollywood style.
One of the most famous films directed by Ernst Lubitsch, “Trouble in Paradise” brings into our attention three great Hollywood forgotten stars: Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis and Herbert Marshall. The film itself is a hidden gem that was brought to surface only in the last couple of years, several film critics promoting it in their books and articles. I, personally, wasn’t so much enraptured by the script itself, which followed the typical line of a love triangle, but by the atmosphere itself. You will certainly love all the dresses that Hopkins and Francis wear and that were masterfully created by Travis Benton, the expensive jewellery, the Art Deco designs, and, of course, the actors’ performances. You will enjoy the presence of two familiar actors in the supporting cast, Edward Everett Horton (who appeared in most of the Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire movies) and C. Aubrey Smith (known for several classics, like “Waterloo Bridge”, “Rebecca”, and “The Prisoner of Zenda”). The plot of the film involves two professional thieves who make a scheme to steal the money from a wealthy businesswoman. Throughout the film, there are many references to the economic crisis from 1929-1932, but the glamour and the exciting life of the fortunate ones is certainly the key of this comedy. Lubitsch is great at such productions, as you will remember some other top films of his, such as “Ninotchka”, “To Be or Not to Be”, “The Shop Around the Corner”, and “Heaven Can Wait”. You will get to like “Trouble in Paradise” and even to dream about it – at least, it happened to me. I liked Kay Francis in particular, not just because she was such a terrific actress, but also because she was a distinguished and elegant presence, who possessed a lot of money in real life (no wonder why she usually played the role of a socialite) and who was famous for her splendid dresses that fit her to perfection, even more because she was a very tall woman, at 1.75 m. being taller than other tall celebrities in those times, like Greta Garbo and Rosalind Russell. All in all, I highly recommend you to watch this film. It’s high class entertainment in the purest old Hollywood style!