Cluny Brown (1946)

ERNST LUBITSCH

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 1946.  Screenplay by , , contributing writer , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Jennifer Jones is delightful in this excellent, late Lubitsch film, as a London plumber’s daughter who has an obsession with clearing drainpipes. When her father decides to put her into service in order to make sure she stays on the straight and narrow, she ends up in the countryside with a very posh aristocratic couple, their naively forward-thinking son () and his houseguest, a political refugee from Czechoslovakia (Charles Boyer) who is on the run from the Nazis. Jones catches the eye of a local apothecary () with very strict ideas of proper female behaviour, while at the same time ignoring the advances of Boyer, who not only loves her but loves her exactly as she is. Pointed statements about class and gender are made, totally within the context of the period the film originates from, but it’s an interesting combination of political savvy and light comedic grace. The “Lubitsch touch” isn’t wholly apparent in the physical look of the film, it’s not as beautifully glinty as his early work, but the high level of sophistication and wit and the amazing ease with which the plot ambles along betray the brilliance of the filmmaker behind the camera.

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