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Edward Everett Horton
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Andre and Colette Bertier are happily married. When Colette introduces her husband to her flirtatious best friend, Mitzi, he does his best to resist her advances. But she is persistent, and very cute, and he succumbs. Mitzi's husband wants to divorce her, and has been having her tailed. Andre gets caught, and must confess to his wife. But Colette has had problems resisting the attentions of another man herself, and they forgive each other. Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the great films of the 1930's -- why isn't this available on DVD??
I first saw ONE HOUR WITH YOU (1932) one magical evening in the summer of 1987. I was 19 years old; I ditched work, and drove up to UCLA on the strength of an LA Times blurb. I knew very little about Lubitsch, and had pre-conceived notions about MacDonald and Chevalier. ONE HOUR WITH YOU was one half of a perfect double bill that night with Mamoulian's fantastic LOVE ME TONIGHT (also from 1932). Both films blew me away: they have the special, magical glow of other great Paramount films from that era; the humor is racy and modern; the songs are memorable and funny; and the playing by everyone is exquisite. I've always thought of that night as being one of the best nights at the movies that I've ever had. Both films are enchanting -- I can still remember people running to talk to each other after the screenings of how much they loved them... The audience's joy was palpable throughout.
Of course, as time has past, I've caught up with the rest of Lubitsch's work -- but this film for me is the tops. (TROUBLE IN PARADISE comes a very close second.) Jeannette MacDonald for me was such a revelation. She's both knowing and naive, sexy and sweet... her final confrontation with Chevalier ("...if you're a Don Juan... than I'm a Cleopatra!") is really extraordinary: she utterly transforms herself from a mousy housewife to a believably sexy and silly siren within the span of a few seconds. (Her performance here is similar to that of Mia Farrow's performance in ALICE (1990), when Farrow first comes on to Joe Mantegna's character...) Genevieve Tobin also deserves mention as the sexually insatiable Mitzi. Her first encounter with Chevalier where she is coming on to him in the back of the tax cab ("Let's put our newspapers away and let us face that facts!") is a fantastic bit of acting. And of course Maurice Chevalier is wonderful as the doctor. I especially love his shocked, mock-horror expressions when his two women are whispering to each other, looking at him ("He can...?" "No..." "I tell you he can!")
The film is interesting also for being an early musical, before the genre had the defining imprint of Busby Berkeley and Fred Astaire . It's a musical-comedy hybrid, and as such -- there's no other musical out there like it: the film employs rhyming verse, MacDonald's operatic trilling, playful double-entendres, and Chavalier's directly-addressing the audience. No musical numbers per se (in the traditional sense), but a barrage of musical elements that make this film unique.
The only time this film has been released on home video was in 1997 when Universal briefly released a laserdisc box set called "The Lubitsch Touch," along with other classics, such as THE LOVE PARADE (1929), MONTE CARLO (1930), THE SMILING LIEUTENANT (1931), and DESIGN FOR LIVING (1933). Universal needs to get on the stick and release this on DVD! Even though this film was nominated for Best Picture of 1931/32, it's barely known today. Lubitsch's TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932) and Mamoulian's LOVE ME TONIGHT are revived more often than this. One reason for this critical oversight might hinge on the film's authorship: George Cukor began the film directing from Lubitsch's own ructions, only later to be replaced by Lubitsch himself, mid-way through the production. Cukor took Lubitsch to court and ultimately won a co-directing credit -- though it's next to impossible to tell who directed what: it's Lubitsch's picture, without a doubt.
Being such a huge fan of a film most people haven't seen or heard of has led me to one special meeting with a fellow enthusiast of ONE HOUR WITH YOU: I was working at a poster shop in San Francisco, selling some film posters to David Packard who owns the Stanford Theater in Palo Alto. His was going to be showing ONE HOUR WITH YOU in the upcoming month, and I mentioned to that it might be my favorite American film. He said (or sung to me): "Me too! Why don't we start singing right now!?" (And then he broke into a few bars of "Oh, That Mitzi!") He said that it was one of his all-time favorites, and also told me that he feels that it's his duty to show every person he knows or lives in the Bay area ONE HOUR WITH YOU before he dies!~ I wish that Universal Home Video felt the same way!
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