2003 Milk Plus Droogies

Best Picture
Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Director
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Actor (tie)
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean

Best Actor (tie)
Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

Best Actress
Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Supporting Actor
David Hyde Pierce, Down With Love

Best Supporting Actress
Miranda Richardson, Spider

Best Screenplay
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

Best Foreign Film

Best Cinematography
Harris Savides, Gerry

Members' Marquees

Critical Contacts

Lobby Reading

The Video Store

Reel Resources

The Blog Bijou

-Admit One
-Artistic Delusions
-Belligerent Bunny's Bad Movie Shrine
-Beware of Blog
-The Brain Drain
Biancolo Notes
-The Big Ticket
-Bitter Cinema
-Black & White World
-Bull Durham's Hot Corner
-Brewed Fresh Daily
-Camille's Film Journal
-The Chutry Experiment
-Cineblog (II)
-Cine Club
-Cinegraphic.Net: The Avante-Garde Film and Video Blog
-Cinema 24
-Cinema News
-Il Cinema Secondo (Italian)
-Cineaste (Russian)
-Cinema Toast
-Concentrated Nonsense
-Confessions of an Indie Filmmaker
-Cult Movies I Dare You to Watch
-Cutting to the Chase
-Cynthia Rockwell's Waiting Room
-The Daily Despair
-The Daily Digest
-Day for Night
-Delta Sierra Arts
-Dinky's Docket
-Distorting the Medium
-Donald Melanson On Movies
-Electric Movies
-Fade In: Blog
-Feeling Listless
-Filmfilter (German)
-Filmtagebuch (German)
-Film Talk
-Five Easy Pieces
-Frank Booth
-A Girl and A Gun
-Glazed Donuts
-GreenCine Daily
-Harlequin Knights
-He Loved Him Some Movies
-The Hobo Reviews
-Hot Buttered Death
-Iggy's Movie Review Weblog
-Iguano Film Blog
-In Development
-Japanese Films' Journal
-Joe Sixpack's Film Blog
-Joe's Weblog & Film Project News
-Junk for Code
-Kumari's Movie Blog
-Lights Out Films
-Like Anna Karina's Sweater (Filmbrain)
-Listen Missy
-Magnolia Girl
-Marley's Ghost
-Media Yenta
-Michael I. Trent
-Moov Goog
-Motime Like the Present
-Movie Boy
-Movie Criticism For the Retarded
-A Movie Diary
-The Movie Generation
-The Movie Marketing Blog
-Movie Retard
-The Movie Review
-Moving Pictures
-Nando's Blog
-Netflix Fan
-Or Kill Me
-Out of Ambit
-Out of Focus
-Paolo - Cinema's Radio Weblog (Italian)
-Pigs and Battleships
-Plot Kicks In
-Pop Culture Junkies
-The Projector
-Qwipster's Movie Reviews
-Reel Reviews (Podcast)
-Reviews, Reviews, Reviews
-The Screening Room
-Screen Watcher
-Short and Sweet
-The Silver Screen
-Stinky Cinema
-Sunset Blvd
-Tagline: A Movie Weblog
Talking Pictures
Tea for One
-Tom Vick's Asian Cinema Blog
-Trailer Park
-Truly Bad Films
Waste of Tape
-Wayne's Movie Blog
Whippin Picadilly
Wittgenstein's Bunnies
-Yay! Movies!
McBain Recommends
-Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
-Kill Bill vol 2
Shroom Recommends
-Top 20 List
-Head On
Joker Recommends
-Top 20 List
-House of Flying Daggers
-The Aviator
-Bad Education
Yun-Fat Recommends
-Eight Diagram Pole Fighter
-Los Muertos
-Tropical Malady
Allyn Recommends
-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
-Songs from the Second Floor
Phyrephox Recommends
-Top 20 List
-Design for Living (Lubitsch, 1933)
-War of the Worlds
-Howl's Moving Castle
Melisb Recommends
-Top 20 List
-The Return
-Spirited Away
-Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...And Spring
Wardpet Recommends
-Finding Nemo
-Man on the Train
-28 Days Later
Lorne Recommends
-21 Grams
-Cold Mountain
-Lost in Translation
Merlot Recommends
-Top 20 List
-The Man on the Train
-Safe Conduct
-The Statement
Whitney Recommends
-Femme Fatale
-Gangs of New York
-Grand Illusion
Sydhe Recommends
-In America
-Looney Tunes: Back In Action
-Whale Rider
Copywright Recommends
Top 20 List
-Flowers of Shanghai
-Road to Perdition
Stennie Recommends
Top 20 List
-A Matter of Life and Death
Rodney Recommends
Top 20 List
-The Pianist
-Talk to Her
Jeff Recommends
-Dial M for Murder
-The Game
-Star Wars Saga
Lady Wakasa Recommends
-Dracula: Page from a Virgin's Diary
-Dr. Mabuse, Der Spieler
-The Last Laugh
Steve Recommends
-Top 20 List
-Princess Raccoon
-Princess Raccoon
-Princess Raccoon
Jenny Recommends
-Mean Girls
-Super Size Me
-The Warriors
Jason Recommends
Top 20 List
-Old Boy
-Million Dollar Baby
-Head On
Lons Recommends
-Before Sunset
-The Incredibles

Powered by Blogger Pro™

links open windows

(c)2002 Design by Blogscapes.com

The Blog:
Monday, May 26, 2003

Trouble in Paradise

Trouble in Paradise, 1932. Ernst Lubitsch's pre-Code masterpiece about a playboy jewel thief torn between his wealthy, widowed mark and his pickpocket lover.

The film begins with a sequence that intercuts between two rooms at the same luxury hotel in Venice, Italy. In one room, the Royal Suite, M. Filiba has been assaulted by an unknown attacker, and is telling his story to the hotel detective and the police. In the other room, a Baron is having a romantic dinner with a Countess, who is nervous about her reputation, dining alone with a man in his room.

Over their private dinner, the Countess (Miriam Hopkins) casually announces that she knows that the Baron is the man who assaulted M. Filiba – then politely asks him to pass the salt. The Baron (Herbert Marshall) returns just as casually that the Countess is a thief, and he knows that she swiped Filiba's wallet from him: "In fact, you tickled me." In the scene that follows, the two trade back the items that they have stolen from each other in the previous few minutes – a watch here, a jewel there – until the climax, when the Baron produces her garter from his pocket, kisses it, and then puts it back in his pocket, to keep as a souvenir. The Countess is delighted, and throws herself into his arms.

It's clear from this moment that these two are made for each other. The Baron is actually Gaston Monescu, world-renowned jewel thief. The "Countess" is Lily Vautier, a common pickpocket among a rather uncommon crowd. Together they embark on a high-class crime spree across Europe. Sort of an early Bonnie & Clyde, except they don't kill anyone. That would be distasteful.

One year later, Monescu and Lily are still very much in love, but in need of a bankroll. They find their mark in Mme. Mariet Colet (Kay Francis), the wealthy widow of a perfume tycoon. Mme. Colet has inherited the perfume company but has no head for business, and her casual appearances at board meetings only serve to frustrate the executives. She would much rather be out shopping. She is also being pursued by two gentlemen: The Major (Charlie Ruggles) and good ol' M. Filiba (Edward Everett Horton), but she's not really interested in either of them.

Monescu and Lily at first only intend to steal Mme. Colet's highly-overpriced handbag, but when they discover who she is, Monescu (as M. LeValle) insinuates himself as her personal and business secretary (with benefits) – with a plan for the big score -- $80,000 francs.

Complications arise when Monescu finds himself becoming romantically involved with Mme. Colet, which not only incurs Lily's wrath but also interferes with his plot to steal the money. Not to mention the fact that M. Filiba finally remembers where he met M. LeValle in the first place.

Much has been written by film critics and historians about Ernst Lubitsch and "The Lubitsch Touch." His influence can be seen very clearly in the works of Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges and several directors even up to today.

It's difficult to put your finger on exactly what sets Lubitsch apart, and above, other directors of his time. He was very devoted to the writing – not just the dialogue, not just the plot, but the structure and the shape in which the story unfolds (Lubitsch co-wrote most of his scripts, but rarely took credit). But he was not rooted in the script, either; Lubitsch understood that film is a visual medium (having gotten his start in silent films), and knew how to let the camera tell his story as well, rather than put it all in the mouths of his characters.

Lubitsch's comedic style was to take a joke or a humorous situation, play it for all it's worth, then, just when you think it's played out, toss in a capper. Take for example the dinner scene between Monescu and Lily, where they return their stolen items to each other: Most directors would stop with the jewel and the watch, but Lubitsch goes one step further with the garter – and turning the joke on its ear, Monescu doesn't return it; he kisses it and puts it back in his pocket. This too is characteristic of Lubitsch – his handling of sexuality with frankness and humor.

Visually, Lubitsch was a master at transitionary montages, in which exposition and the passage of time could be whittled down to a few seconds. In Trouble in Paradise, the introduction of Mme. Colet takes only a few moments, through a montage of various people (maids, butlers, shopkeepers, chauffeurs, gardeners) saying either, "Yes, Madame" or "No, Madame." We know everything we need to know about her from this: she's rich, she likes to shop, and she's used to getting her way. Later, when Monescu moves in and takes over her business, the scene is repeated: "Yes, Monsieur," and "No, Monsieur."

Lubitsch also had a knack of getting uncharacteristically good performances out of his actors. Herbert Marshall, a staid and rather bland English actor with no sex appeal whatsoever in any other film of his I've seen, positively crackles with sly sexual energy in Trouble in Paradise. Miriam Hopkins and Kay Francis, extremely talented and attractive actresses to begin with, both have a sparkle in this film unmatched in the rest of their repertoire. Toss in Charlie Ruggles and Edward Everett Horton, two of my favorite character actors from the '30s, and you've got a winner.

Beautifully restored on DVD from Criterion – pricey at forty bucks but well worth it.