IMDb > The Smiling Lieutenant (1931)
The Smiling Lieutenant
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The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) More at IMDbPro »


Overview

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8.0/10   2,177 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
Leopold Jacobson (operetta) and
Felix Dormann (operetta) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Smiling Lieutenant on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
1 August 1931 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
Lieutenant Niki of the Austrian royal guard has a new girlfriend, Franzi. He's crazy about her and is smiling at her while on duty in the street... See more » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
Nominated for Oscar. See more »
NewsDesk:
(7 articles)
User Reviews:
"Glamour in the grapefruit" See more (27 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Maurice Chevalier ... Lt. Nikolaus 'Niki' von Preyn

Claudette Colbert ... Franzi

Miriam Hopkins ... Princess Anna

Charles Ruggles ... Max (as Charlie Ruggles)
George Barbier ... King Adolf XV
Hugh O'Connell ... Niki's Orderly
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Maude Allen ... Lady in Waiting (uncredited)
Granville Bates ... Bill Collector (uncredited)
Harry C. Bradley ... Count Von Halden (uncredited)
Carrie Daumery ... Lady in Waiting (uncredited)
Ludwig Heinsich ... Man (uncredited)
Lon MacSunday ... Emperor Franz Josef (uncredited)
Elizabeth Patterson ... Baroness von Schwedel (uncredited)
Janet Reade ... Lily (uncredited)
Werner Saxtorph ... Joseph (uncredited)
Karl Stall ... Master of Ceremonies (uncredited)
Robert Strange ... Col. Rockoff (uncredited)
Charles Wagenheim ... Arresting Officer (uncredited)
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Directed by
Ernst Lubitsch 
 
Writing credits
Leopold Jacobson (operetta "Ein Walzertraum") and
Felix Dormann (operetta "Ein Walzertraum") (as Felix Dörmann)

Hans Müller (novel "Nux der Prinzgemahl")

Ernest Vajda (screenplay) &
Samson Raphaelson (screenplay)

Jacques Bataille-Henri  dialogue: French version (uncredited)
Ernst Lubitsch  uncredited

Produced by
Ernst Lubitsch .... producer
 
Cinematography by
George J. Folsey  (as George Folsey)
 
Film Editing by
Merrill G. White (uncredited)
 
Art Direction by
Hans Dreier (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
C.A. Tuthill .... sound (uncredited)
Ernest Zatorsky .... sound (uncredited)
 
Stunts
Harry Froboess .... stunts (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Adolph Deutsch .... musical director (uncredited)
Johnny Green .... music arranger (uncredited)
Conrad Salinger .... music arranger (uncredited)
 
Crew believed to be complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
89 min (cut version) | 93 min (original version)
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.20 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Certification:
UK:U (DVD rating) | USA:Passed (National Board of Review)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
A French version with dialogue and lyrics by Henri Bataille was shown in New York on 15 October 1931 and was also a big hit in Paris. It had the same three leading actors, and was filmed at the same time as the English language version, as dubbing had not yet been invented.See more »
Goofs:
Revealing mistakes: In the latter part of the movie Chevalier bounds up a grand staircase painted to appear as marble but the loud clomp-clomp-clomp of his shoes reveals it to be just wood.See more »
Quotes:
Princess Anna:Papa, you may not realize it, but I'm desperate. I'm no longer responsible. I'm capable of anything. If you don't let me have my Lieutenant, do you know what I'm going to do?
King Adolf XV:What?
Princess Anna:I'm going to marry an American!
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Street Without End (1934)See more »
Soundtrack:
Toujours l'Amour in the ArmySee more »

FAQ

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
"Glamour in the grapefruit", 26 February 2010
Author: Steffi_P from Ruritania

In that era we rather misleadingly call "pre-code", infringements against the production code (which was fully in existence, just lacking in enforcement) came in all shapes and sizes. While some producers titillated their audiences with tentative nudity or shocked them with frank portrayals of infidelity and prostitution, others used delicate but potentially more flagrant transgressions of innuendo. It was at Paramount studios, in the pictures of Ernst Lubitsch, that innuendo was taken to astounding new heights of creative expressiveness.

Of course, Lubitsch was and still is known for his tact in implying the unspoken, but he did not operate in a vacuum. The Smiling Lieutenant was his first collaboration with screenwriter Samson Raphaelson, and while Lubitsch was no doubt the driving personality behind his famous "touch", it seems Raphaelson (who would have a hand in most of the director's subsequent hits) thought enough along the same lines to make the pictures he wrote by far the most "touched". So while Lubitsch gives us visual clues such as the young lady using a secret knock to get into Maurice Chevalier's room, followed by a close-up of a light going on and off, it was probably Raphaelson who contributed some of that witty wordplay that adequately sets the tone. My favourite example of this has to be Chevalier's reply to Miriam Hopkins asking if married people winked; "Oh they do, but not at each other!" And then there are Clifford Grey's lyrics, which playfully delve into some of the more inventive innuendo, most memorably in "Breakfast Table Love".

Chevalier is the perfect star for this kind of understated ribaldry. He has a "touch" of his own, in the way he smiles and raises his eyebrows, that curiously yet alluring treads the line between lecherous and charming. His appearance here, after the disappointing Monte Carlo with Jack Buchanan, demonstrates how important the right kind of actor is for such a role. If Jack Buchanan invited you to breakfast, you'd think he was making a polite offer to pop round in the morning for tea and toast. When Maurice Chevalier invites you to breakfast, there is absolutely no doubt that he wants you to spend the night, and frankly doesn't care what you fancy eating the next morning! Claudette Colbert makes a great screen partner for Chevalier. She is not quite the talented singer that Jeanette MacDonald is, but she has a slinkiness to her that suits the story's undertones, and would later be exploited by Cecil B. DeMille in Sign of the Cross and Cleopatra. This may be one of her earlier roles, but she shows a great confidence and maturity about her that is perfect for the part. The third corner of The Smiling Lieutenant's love triangle is Miriam Hopkins. Hopkins is sometimes mistaken for a bad actress. This is not the case. She is in fact an excellent ham, as were Charles Laughton and John Barrymore, by no means a subtle or realistic player, but nevertheless utterly captivating in the right role. She is excellent here as the naïve and frumpy young princess, displaying her finest comedic sensibilities.

The Smiling Lieutenant contains only five songs, far fewer than previous Lubitsch musicals. With the exception of "Jazz Up Your Lingerie", the numbers also seem far less integral to the narrative than they were in Monte Carlo (which by the way is the best in terms of musical direction and integration, albeit the worst in every other respect). And yet this is a very consistently musical production. In 1931 it was still unusual for pictures to feature incidental music, and ironically the early talkies were often genuinely silent whenever the actors stopped talking. The Smiling Lieutenant however is scored almost from its first minute to its last. Contrary to the later practice of writing all music after filming wrapped, I suspect the incidental scoring may have been prepared beforehand and even played on the set. In particular Claudette Colbert's poignant abandonment of Chevalier seems almost choreographed to its sweeping string arrangement.

When such backing scores became commonplace, they sometimes actually spoiled a picture's integrity, blaring out emotional cues for each scene when none was required. But for The Smiling Lieutenant it is a positive bonus, providing a light and lyrical setting for the many wordless moments. And this of course is all the better for those neatly constructed vignettes of unspoken innuendo, sly winks at the audience that are so fabulously clever they are a delight in themselves.

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