USA | 1926 | 67 minutes | NR
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Monte Blue, Patsy Ruth Miller, Lilyan Tashman, Andre Beranger, Myrna Loy (in a small role)
A naughty, savvy, wickedly delicious comedy of errors-Parisian style!
Lubitsch’s remarkable series of marital mishap comedies earned him the reputation as one of Hollywood’s most elegant and sophisticated directors, commonly summed up as “the Lubitsch Touch”.
Reality and fantasy crosscut in a comic, love quadrangle amongst the Parisian upper class. He adds to the mental and physical kinetics with a phenomenally psychedelic avant-garde dance sequence that author Scott Eyman writes “amount to one of the silent cinema’s most audacious leap toward the musical.”
So much has been written about the dazzling kaleidoscope of images in the Ball Charleston sequences that it might be easy to forget the delightful humour, dry wit and sly innuendo that makes up the bulk of the film. Reminiscent of his earlier Marriage Circle, it conveys an almost Oscar Wilde attitude in its loopy homage to Parisian mores.
Happily married Suzanne notices her new neighbours across from her window to be an extraordinary couple of “expressive dancers”. While she inwardly fantasizes about the almost constant state of undress of the striking male dancer, she is “shocked” enough to send her dutiful, dull husband over to complain about the “lack of morality”. That knock on their door sets in motion a chain of events that only a maestro like Lubitsch could conduct.
“Lubitsch applies his naughty touch to a sexual roundelay, as two sophisticated, straying couples flirt their way towards a mammoth dance contest, a good-natured send-up of sheikhs, jazz babies and would be wife swappers, replete with binge drinking, outrageous Freudian symbolism and a writhing kaleidoscope that must be the ultimate Charleston scene/” J Hoberman NY Times
Bonus: A secret curtain raiser
Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Cast: Monte Blue, Patsy Ruth Miller, Lilyan Tashman
Doors Open 30 Minutes Before Showtime.