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Two Americans sharing a flat in Paris, playwright Tom Chambers and painter George Curtis, fall for free-spirited Gilda Farrell. When she can't make up her mind which one of them she prefers, she proposes a "gentleman's agreement": She will move in with them as a friend and critic of their work, but they will never have sex. But when Tom goes to London to supervise a production of one of his plays, leaving Gilda alone with George, how long will their gentleman's agreement last? Written by
Capel Cleggs <email@example.com>
Miriam Hopkins finds herself in love with both Gary Cooper and Fredric March (who can blame her?), so she does what any sensible Pre-Code woman would do: she decides to live with both of them!
It's a tribute to movie audiences of the early 1930s that a sophisticated comedy like Design for Living could a.) Get produced, and b.) Be a success at the box office. The dumbing down of current films means that the delicious innuendo in Design for Living would go over the head of most of today's audience.
The key to the Lubitsch Touch was in the perfect timing of physical gestures and the delivery of the lines. Trouble in Paradise and Design for Living were the best in this respect. Personally, I prefer the lack of music in Design for Living. I think it dates the film less than Lubitsch's other efforts.
I don't mind that Ben Hecht wrote most of the film's dialog rather than Noel Coward, who wrote the original play. All I know is that the dialog is very very funny and quite naughty, making this the ultimate Pre-Code film.
Miriam Hopkins could do no wrong in a Lubitsch film, and her work here is brilliant. She's intelligent and uncompromisingly honest. Her leading men, Gary Cooper and Fredric March, are both sexy and hilarious. Gary Cooper is a particular revelation, displaying a flair for comedy that is quite unexpected. As Cooper's friend and rival for the affection of Hopkins, March is also very funny, which comes as no surprise after his brilliant parody of John Barrymore in The Royal Family of Broadway (1930).
Prepare to laugh yourself silly during what may be the funniest film ever made.
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