Lord Frederick Barker is the British representative to the League of Nations. Current geopolitical tensions, which could lead to war if not dealt with, have him preoccupied with work, he more often than not feeling the need to deal with issues rather than delegate them to subordinates. As such, his wife, Lady Maria Barker, is feeling neglected, Frederick, totally devoted to and in love with his wife, unaware of her feelings. While he is in Geneva for work, she secretly flies to Paris under an assumed name to deal with her emotions with her old friend, the Grand Duchess Anna Dmitrievna formerly of Russia, the only person in Paris who knows her true identity. The Grand Duchess' general role in her social circle is to facilitate good times for others, with unspoken discretion. It is at the Grand Duchess' salon that Maria meets playboy Anthony Halton. While spending the evening together, Maria and Tony fall in love with each other, with Maria, under the circumstances, refusing to divulge ...Written by
Paramount paid $8,500 for Melchior Lengyel's play. The film length was gradually cut from 2916.94m (11 reels) to 2478.33m (nine reels) after pre-release showings in New York City and six California cities from 25 July 1937 to 13 September 1937. See more »
Lubitsch is recognized as one of the great directors of the 30s, and yet this wonderful film is not on any of the usual critical lists of notable films. Perhaps it was too modern for its time. It is perhaps Dietrich's best English performance (though even here she could be a bit more subtle), but the real star is the director, shining in the shots he composes and performances he coaxes from his actors. Lubitsch is a master of subtlety, and when he places important moments off-screen, it is in such a way as to heighten their impact. Since the censorship code is in effect, the sexual elements are cleverly concealed. For example, Halton and Barker discover that in Paris they both visited the same... seamstress. The naive Hays Office must have thought that was the joke, but the real joke is on them for it is clear--at least today--that the two did not visit her to get their sewing done. The sophistication of the film is unusual for its time.
Pages could be written about this film. Suffice it to say that if you like 30s film at all, see this. In certain moments, it feels perfect. Probably one of the top 25 of the decade.
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