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. King Adolf and his daughter Princess Anna from the neighboring kingdom of Flausenthurm drive by, and Anna intercepts a wink meant for Franzi. She falls for Niki, marries him (he has no choice in the matter), and whisks him off to Flausenthurm. Franzi follows and enjoys a brief affair with Niki before Anna finds out. Franzi, much more experienced in the ways of the world, gives Anna lessons on how to win the affections of her husband.Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
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 »
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 »
I found, a new, commander to obey. I must report, for duty, right away. She'll never pension me.
Ra-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta...
Toujours, l'amour, in the army...
[Marches back to the bed chamber]
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A version in French with dialogue and lyrics by 'Henri Bataille (II)' played in New York City, New York, USA on 15 October 1931, and was a big hit in Paris. It probably was a dubbed English version, but slightly shorter at 2,476.80 m in length. See more »
I am grateful for Lubitsch. I always am when I watch a good film, but the feeling is somehow of a different magnitude when the encounter suggests a consistently bright and sensitive soul. He must have been having a blast composing these things, sculpting the contours of little jokes, rubbing as frivolously as he could against the edges of sexual protocol. Much has been made of his Touch, though it seems an elusive thing: reading up on various critics' proposed theories of it, you couldn't get two to agree—even his collaborator Billy Wilder, when interviewed about it, seems a bit mystified. I have my own notion that I'm working on, but hashing that out is in the future.
Yes, you will have a great time with this, quite possibly the raunchier of all the precode musicals I have been visiting as of late. The farce is about finding a million small ways to suggest sex, some of them bawdy, usually elegant—breakfast as sex talk, a bugle's rousing ra-tat-tat as arousal, 'Jazz up your Lingerie', and the baffling scene that closes this, where the virginal princess, instructed on seduction by her sexual rival, transforms into a wild flapper—smoking, banging a jazz tune at the piano—to get the capricious lothario she lusts after into bed, all this amounting more or less to the happy end of a successful romance.
One more thing. The engine that drives this cinematic world into motion, I'm sure most viewers would not think twice of it, but I'm in the habit of noting interesting cases. In this case, I believe (though it is too early to tell) it exemplifies on the deepest level the whole cosmology of Lubitsch.
On a first level, it is simple enough; a misunderstood smile.
As the misunderstanding is the most commonplace trope, this isn't particularly useful or revealing. This is what happens a little later though. The dashing lieutenant is instructed—as per the emperor's wishes —not to propose, not even speak to the smitten princess.
This is presented by the adjutant who makes the case not as a cut-and- dry decision, but as the product of much political deliberation and digress, itself an impish joke on imperial etiquette. So far so good.
In the following scene, however, he receives a congratulatory phonecall on his marriage. And in yet the next scene, he is officially congratulated in person by the emperor, the same one who forbade him to propose.
Yes, we can reason that somewhere along the line, for whatever reasons, the decision was reverted, that is beside the point. The point is that lesser filmmakers would explain. And yet it makes sense seemingly illogical as we have it.
So how about this for a blueprint? Improvisation and whimsical digress, and in the quantum level of narrative, you have spontaneous uncertainty, which is the most universal of attributes. And in the world of the film, this is going to have far-reaching imports, like deciding the course of empires.
Something to meditate upon.
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