Ernst Lubitsch’s 90-minute tour of paradise


Dietrich, Cooper, DesireTonight at LACMA — the launch of Ian Birnie’s 16-film retrospective of the American-made comedies of Ernst Lubitsch.

Both films run a dreamy 90 minutes long! Let’ s see how much great entertainment the German expat could pack into 1.5 hours.

Nicola Lubitsch, the director’s daughter, will be in the house for a curtain talk.

Trouble in Paradise (1932), dir. Ernst Lubitsch w/ Miriam Hopkins, Herbert Marshall, Kay Francis. Gleaming black and white cinematography and incredible Art Deco sets by Hans Dreier, Paramount’s top production designer, add sparkle to this witty tale of two jewel thieves—Marshall and Hopkins—who pose as sophisticated aristocrats in order to rob languorous Parisian widow Francis of her perfume fortune. Lightning-quick repartee between these con artists (meeting for dinner in Venice, they express their growing attraction by pick-pocketing increasingly personal items from each other) gives way to complicated emotions when Francis falls for Marshall, thus forcing an incensed Hopkins to concoct her own brand of larceny.

Desire (1936), prod: Ernst Lubitsch, dir: Frank Borzage; w/ Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper. As Paramount’s newly appointed head of production, Lubitsch oversaw The Devil is a Woman, Sternberg’s last film with Dietrich, and personally produced Desire, the star’s first post-Sternberg film, in which she plays a cosmopolitan jewel thief whose attempts to retrieve the necklace that she dropped into the pocket of American businessman Cooper while crossing the Spanish border leads to comedy and romance.

The American Comedies of Ernst Lubitsch | LACMA | month of July

“Desire” photo:

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