Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review: Trouble in Paradise (1932)

Trouble In Paradise was the first talkie romantic comedy that Ernst Lubitsch made for Hollywood. Prior to this, he made many very funny silents and a couple of dramas and musicals. But it was on Trouble in Paradise where his directorial strengths came into play. With sophistication, and good timing, Lubitsch rewrites the rules of romantic comedy. Lubitsch is at his best when he has his leads (Herbert Marshall, Miriam Hopkins, and Kay Francis) just banter between themselves. His suggestive actions and subtleties are far funnier than straight slapstick.

Marshall and Hopkins are a couple of con artists who meet while trying to con each other. They fall in love and get married. They then fall into an opportunity to con Francis. Francis and Marshall fall in love, and you can probably guess the rest of the plot.

The cast is first rate. Marshall walks through this film never losing his sense of sophistication, even when he knows the jig is up. Hopkins turns on the charm as needed and is hilarious in a small bit with Eva McKenzie at the beginning of the film. Francis is beautiful as their high spending foil. Nice work is also turned in by Charlie Ruggles, Edward Everett Horton and C. Aubrey Smith. Also, the sets and costumes create a gorgeous, enticing Art Deco world that's a little hard to leave when the movie ends.

Interestingly, when Paramount tried to reissue this film in 1935, it was turned down because of the production code and the same thing happened in 1942. But this is a superb comedy that definitely deserves your attention. It's a real pleasure to watch.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of Lubitsch's gems - but it tends to get lost in the wake of reverence for his most celebrated films, "Ninotchka," "The Shop Around the Corner" and "To Be or Not to Be." I think "Trouble in Paradise" and "The Merry Widow," wherein his 'touch' is definitely at work, deserve more respect than they get relative to his better known masterworks.