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Archive for October 9th, 2011

by Allan Fish

(USA 1929 109m) DVD1

The one about the Frenchman and the farmer’s daughter 

p  Ernst Lubitsch  d  Ernst Lubitsch  w  Ernest Vajda, Guy Bolton  play  “The Prince Consort” by Leon Xanrof, Jules Chancel  ph  Victor Milner  ed  Merrill White  m/ly  Victor Schertzinger, Clifford Grey  art  Hans Dreier  cos  Travis Banton

Maurice Chevalier (Count Alfred Renard), Jeanette MacDonald (Queen Louise of Sylvania), Lupino Lane (Jacques), Lillian Roth (Lulu), Edgar Norton (Major-Domo),

I like to think that the one brilliant scene in Sofia Coppola’s powder-puff jukebox version of Marie Antoinette owed something to Ernst Lubitsch.  Kirsten Dunst’s princess is awoke from her repose by her attendants, the senior ranking of whom pulls Marie’s nightdress over her head and leaves her sitting naked on the bed preparing to be dressed.  Unfortunately, this ceremony is continually interrupted by increasingly high-ranking women who take precedence and, according to custom, must supersede in the act of dressing the princess, while poor Marie turns pink with cold.  It’s a scene that Mervyn Peake would have loved, but also Ernst Lubitsch, that supreme skewerer of the idle aristocracy and their pointless rigmarole for ceremony’s sake. 

            Count Alfred Renard, a ladies’ man military attaché, is returned from service in his beloved Paris home to Sylvania.  The country is ruled by a twenty-something queen who detests talk of marriage, yet clearly has an itch she wants scratching.  She’s appalled and fascinated by the Count’s Parisian excesses, yet when events conspire to turn him into a candidate for Prince Consort she tries to bend him to her will.  (more…)

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