High class European thief Gaston Monescu meets his soul mate Lily, a pickpocket masquerading as a countess. The two join forces and come under the employ of Mme. Colet, the beautiful owner of the Colet perfume company. Gaston works as Mme. Colet's personal secretary under the alias Monsieur La Valle. Rumors start to fly as 'M. La Valle' steals Mme. Colet away from her other suitors. When the secret of his true identity catches up to him, Gaston is caught between the two beautiful women.Written by
Gary Jackson <email@example.com>
In the opening credits the words 'Trouble in' appear and then a bed before the word 'paradise,' subliminally indicating that sex is at least part of the film's plot. It was done so subtly for the time that censors didn't notice it until the film's attempted re-release in 1935. See more »
...and Ernst Lubitsch at his zenith. First things first: thank you to TCM for showing this recently. Of course I taped it, and of course I've practically worn the tape out by now, a month later.
Point #2: something is terribly wrong in Paradise if the peak era of his work, 29-33, remains in shadow today. Where are the VHS/DVD releases of these wonderful films? Nowhere that I can find them; hopefully the good folks at Turner will continue reviving the early sound Lubitsches. I waited 25 years to see this one again, and the wait was not in vain. Those 25 years put a bit of snow on my roof, but they also allowed me to drink in the ambrosia that is this film with a bit more appreciation than I had at 16. And what intoxicating ambrosia it is! Script, performances, directorial vision are all exquisite. The leads are inspired (oh, for a night with Kay Francis!); the supporting players, expertly calibrated farceurs. The utilization of music as ironic counterpoint to the visuals rivals Clair; the title song, sung over the opening credits, will make your heart race, and break, at the same time. And the look of the film (Art Deco, lovingly handrubbed to a burnished glow) will linger with you forever.
Again and again, Lubitsch pulls rabbits out of hats: scenes like the deepening of Herbert Marshall and Kay Francis' relationship from business to pleasure 'seen' in a clock face are emblematic of what makes this such a special film. Its story is slight, frothy, very nearly silly; yet Lubitsch's knowing observation of small, telling details makes it magical. TROUBLE is not a timeless film, anchored as it is to a very specific time (Long Ago) and place (Far Away), which only deepens its charm and its seductive tugging on the audience's sleeve. I've watched it three times in a night, and three times more the following night - not behavior I usually exhibit. But the siren call of its lively, civilized wit is such that I'm hitting 'rewind' the moment it ends - I don't want to break the spell and return to reality just yet. As fertile as the preCode era is, as many classics as that golden period continues to yield up to those willing to discover them...TROUBLE IN PARADISE is the most glorious of them all.
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