Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Overlooked Movies: Trouble in Paradise

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "How can a movie with a Criterion DVD, a movie that many people love, be called 'overlooked'?"  That's the wrong question.  The question is, "Have you looked it over lately?"

There are a lot of things to like here.  This movie's only 83 minutes long, but it has more plot and more grace notes than just about all the 120-minute-plus movies I've seen lately.  The scene of the first meeting between gentleman thief Gaston Monesque (Herbert Marshall) and gentlewoman thief Lily (Miriam Hopkins), besides being very funny, takes care in a few minutes of information that would be parceled out in half an hour.  When the two of them plot to steal a fortune from Madame Mariette Colet (Kay Francis), setting their plans in motion takes about 2 minutes, not an hour.

Complications abound.  Colet has two suitors (the very amusing Edward Everett Horton and Charles Ruggles) that don't appeal to her.  Horton happens to be someone Marshall has robbed in the past, and when Marshall becomes Colet's secretary, Horton almost (but not quite) recognizes him.  It's obvious that he'll figure things out sooner or later, though.  There are other problems, the biggest one being that Marshall falls for Francis, though it's clear that he still loves Lily and that they're meant for each other.

The director, Ernst Lubitsch, keeps the whole thing lighter than air, with impeccable timing from the entire cast.  The costuming and sets are great, too.  It's impossible for me to watch this one without smiling all the way through, except for the times I'm laughing.  Sure it's 80 years old now.  More, actually.  So some of it is going to appear dated to you youngsters.  And in spite of the color poster up above, the movie is in black and white.  It looks great for the most part (I found the first couple of minutes a little murky).  I know some younger people who say they can't watch B&W movies.  That's their loss, especially in the case of one like this. 

Note: The unofficial trailer above was put together by someone not affiliated with the movie or the studio, but it'll give you an idea of what the movie is like.


Deb said...

Just saw it on TCM a few weeks ago and was amazed all over again by Kay Francis's natural look and manner, even her hair and make-up seemed less "nineteen-thirties" than many other actresses of the era. She never became the big star she seemed poised to be and, apparently, she had a difficult personal life, but on-screen she was like a breath of fresh air.

Anonymous said...

Never liked Kay Fwancis but as I mentioned when Patti Abbott reviewed this a while ago, it must be good if it starred three actors I don't care for and yet was as good as it is. Of course Edward Everett Horton and Charlie Ruggles help, but everything about it was charming.


Unknown said...

I like Wavishing Kay Fwancis. I think "charming" is a good word to describe this one, all right.