October 24, 1932 [Trouble in Paradise]

Those butterscotch accents! Those balustrades and pearls, silken rustlings and trimmed mustaches! Ernst Lubitsch is completely at ease around these charming bounders and bed-hoppers, and asks us to join the soirée.

And why not? I’ve allowed monsters and train-wrecks, mountain-tops and battlefields--why not a little amoral laughter, with swells set up for the fall--and the best of them taking it with a smile? I could watch Kay Francis pose all night long (with apologies to my dear wife), her lips curling, her eyes asking me in. And on the left--that is, sinister--side (but “sinister” only in the mildest sense, he is so blasted charming): Herbert Marshall as the master thief, completely unflappable. He takes everything, and leaves smiles all around--on the face of his lover-accomplice and lover-victim--but not the other men: Charlie Ruggles and Edward Everett Horton, their backs up, their advances rebuffed, remain behind, holding the bag--and I do not refer to dear Miss Francis. (Not to mention a crazy Russian, scolding the wealthy parfumeuse for her wealth, more Trotsky than he'd like: dispatched with little ceremony by a crook.) I’m not often the victim of such high-muck-a-muck-ing, but Lubitsch and his players--and his clever camera, drolly glancing at beds, quick-jumping from smooth operator to ruffled mark, and from servant to servant, heads bobbing, all in the know—they all come together and treat me like a happy sucker, empty-handed but still somehow grinning.


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