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Monday, February 20, 2017

"Trouble in Paradise" (1932)

Film historians have pegged this as Hollywood's first romantic comedy talkie. It's pure style and wit are of the kind rarely seen anymore, how sad is that? Herbert Marshall, droll and debonair, is having a torrid affair with Miriam Hopkins, smart and seductive. The catch is that they're not the high society denizens they purport to be, they're a thief and a pickpocket who prey on rich marks. When mega-wealthy perfume company heiress Kay Francis crosses their path, well, it's a larcenous opportunity too good to pass up. She falls for Herbert, he falls for her (maybe), and Hopkins is stuck in the middle. Lots of quick you-can't-believe-they-got-away-with-that banter and innuendo in this pre-Code script, the brainchild of director Ernst Lubitsch. It's sexy but not salacious, the hallmark of "the Lubitsch touch", that ethereal quality of storytelling that many have tried to copy ever since. Best to watch the real thing and revel.

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