Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1932. Screenplay by Samson Raphaelson, based on the play Only A Dream by Lothar Schmidt. Cinematography by Victor Milner. Produced by Ernst Lubitsch. Music by W. Franke Harling. Production Design by Hans Dreier. Costume Design by Travis Banton. Film Editing by William Shea. Academy Awards 1931/1932.
One of the best examples of Ernst Lubitsch’s contributions to early musicals. Jeanette MacDonald is at her most ravishingly defiant as a happily married woman who is most satisfyingly paired with Maurice Chevalier. A movie that begins with a happy ending is not going to stay that way, so when her best friend (Genevieve Tobin) announces a visit from out of town, she is thrilled, and her husband even more so when he sees the lovely lady. They keep their attraction barely above a heavy flirtation, but Tobin’s husband (Roland Young) gets the wrong idea and puts a divorce in motion, while MacDonald remains oblivious at the same time that she also entertains the attentions of a paramour of her own. Released just breaths before the Hays Code would destroy this kind of sparkling worldliness, the film is a sexy, sassy romp that packs a lot of heat in to 80 short minutes, a treat for the senses (Lubitsch, as always, really knew how to make the silver screen actually silver) and a delight in all other ways. The risqué dialogue (Charles Ruggles‘s male servant wants to see him in tights!) never crosses the line of taste, and the cast has wonderful chemistry.