Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, Charles Boyer, Gary Cooper, Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Loretta Young, Lucille Ball, Marlene Dietrich, Maurice Chevalier, Myrna Loy, Pour Vous, Shirley Temple, Simone Simon
Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Clark Gable, Design for Living, Elizabeth Taylor, Fredric March, Gary Cooper, Greta Garbo, Leslie Howard, Loretta Young, Marlene Dietrich, Miriam Hopkins, Monique classique, Norma Shearer, Roman Holiday, Romeo and Juliet, Vivien Leigh, Warren Beatty
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A delightful and extremely fashionable comedy in the unforgettable style of Ernst Lubitsch, “Design for Living” is one of the most appreciated comedies in the pre-code Hollywood era. The story involves a romantic triangle between a woman and two men. In the leading roles you will find the beautiful Miriam Hopkins and the talented actors Fredric March and Gary Cooper. Owing to its controversial plot, with sexual discussions and innuendos, the film was almost banned by the Hays Office in 1934, but eventually it was successfully released. In the initial version, it was 105 minutes long, and 15 minutes were cut in the final version. The film is based on the homonymous play by Noel Coward, and Ben Hecht, who wrote the screenplay, kept only one line from the original play: “For the good of our immortal souls”. I had a wonderful time watching this comedy and it is so modern even for present-day.
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.
A delightful comedy, made in the unique and charming style of Frank Capra, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” is one of the most successful screwball comedies of all time, along with “It Happened One Night”, “You Can’t Take It With You”, and “My Man Godfrey”. You will see the handsome Gary Cooper in the role of the eccentric, funny, but also generous Longfellow Deeds, a tube player and a poet, who suddenly becomes a very wealthy man after he inherits a fortune from his deceased uncle. “The Cinderella Man”, as he is named by the local press, gets in all kinds of trouble when he moves to the big city. There he meets the love of his life, Babe Bennett, who turns out to be a reporter – the one who actually wrote some articles about his personal life and the one who called him “The Cinderella Man”. The story is not entirely funny. It also combines drama and romance with great skill, as Capra excels at this kind of plots. One of the writers was Robert Riskin, who made the screenplay for other Capra comedies, including “Meet John Doe”, bearing a resemblance to “Mr. Deeds”, again with Gary Cooper and co-starring Barbara Stanwyck. You will also like Jean Arthur’s performance as Babe Bennett. In fact, Arthur was one of the most prolific Hollywood stars of the 1930s, who unfortunately is very little known today. She also appeared in “You Can’t Take It With You” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, both productions of Frank Capra and with James Stewart in the leading role. All in all, you will certainly love “Mr. Deeds”, because it is a wonderful comedy. Frank Capra won the Oscar for Best Director, and the film got other four Oscar nominations, for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Writing, Screenplay, and Best Sound, Recording. There is something magical about all these movies made between 1934 and 1939, the period after the Great Depression and before WWII. They have a very pleasant atmosphere, they are very enjoyable, very entertaining, very elegant (lovely clothes and settings), and the actors, most of the times, have great chemistry, especially in the movies of Frank Capra, who was an expert at making good choices when it came to the cast – and crew. He usually offered the leading roles to certain actors whom he liked in particular, such as Barbara Stanwyck, Jean Arthur, Cary Grant, and James Stewart. I can only say, in the end, that I invite you to watch “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”, and any other Frank Capra films. As a matter of fact, starting from this week I will recommend many productions of Capra, aside from one of my favourites, “The Bitter Tea of General Yen”, on which I wrote an article several weeks ago.