Four of the earliest romantic comedies from Ernest Lubitsch that are available, "The Merry Jail" (1917), "The Oyster Princess", "The Doll" (both 1919) and this film, "I Don't Want to Be a Man", all base much of their humor around situations of mistaken identity. A character masquerades as someone else and absurdity and amusement ensue; in this case, our tomboy protagonist dresses and pretends to be a man for a day of drinking. Lengthy analysis could and probably has been written about the homosexual overtones of the scenes of the male lead repeatedly kissing and touching a woman he believes to be and appears to be a man.
Lubitsch's style was already fairly polished by this time, which is especially evident in the nice 35mm transfers of these films available on home video. The up and down camera movements for seasickness stand out as the most gimmicky technique. What I especially appreciate here, however, is some good comedic visual timing with amusing title cards. For example, in one scene, an intertitle states, "The poor child will be so miserable", which is followed by a shot of the "poor child" dancing zestfully. Overall, even if these early comedies by Lubitsch aren't exceptionally funny and their humor often broad, they're short and well paced; generally, I find them more enjoyable than his ponderous, early dramatic, costume spectacles with Pola Negri.
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