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Design for Living (Criterion Collection)


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Design for Living (Criterion Collection) + Trouble in Paradise (The Criterion Collection) + Heaven Can Wait (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Fredric March, Gary Cooper, Miriam Hopkins, Edward Everett Horton, Jane Darwell
  • Directors: Ernst Lubitsch
  • Format: Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: December 6, 2011
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005ND87UY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,641 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

New high-definition digital restoration with uncompressed monaural soundtrack

The Clerk, starring Charles Laughton

Selected-scene commentary by film professor William Paul

Play of the Week: A Choice of Coward, a 1964 British television production

New interview with Joseph McBride on Lubitsch

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Kim Morgan


Editorial Reviews

Gary Cooper (High Noon), Fredric March (The Best Years of Our Lives), and Miriam Hopkins (Trouble in Paradise) play a trio of Americans in Paris who enter into a very adult “gentleman’s” agreement, in this continental pre-Code comedy freely adapted by Ben Hecht (Notorious) from a play by Noël Coward (Brief Encounter), and directed by Ernst Lubitsch (Trouble in Paradise). A risqué relationship comedy and a witty take on creative pursuits, it concerns a commercial artist (Hopkins) unable—or unwilling—to choose between the equally dashing painter (Cooper) and playwright (March) she meets on a train en route to the City of Light. Design for Living is Lubitsch at his most adroit, an entertainment at once debonair and racy, featuring three stars at the height of their allure.

Customer Reviews

Disc Two a wonderful explanatory addition.
John H. Marvin, Madison, WI - Broadway devotee
Miriam Hopkins stars as a commercial artist, who becomes smitten with both Gary Cooper, a struggling painter, and starving playwright Fredric March.
Michael B. Druxman
There's no leering or innuendo in the movie, just a reliance on the sophistication of the audience.
C. O. DeRiemer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Michael B. Druxman on December 4, 2011
Format: DVD
A disgruntled screenwriter stormed into director Ernst Lubitsch's office, threw 120 blank pieces of paper down onto his desk and said "Here! Give this the Lubitsch touch!"

Obviously, that's a writer's story...but the truth is that when Lubitsch did have a good script...or even a fair one, he was, indeed, able to bring that extra special "touch" to the material, thereby creating a series of risque' sophisticated comedies in the 1930s and 40s that have yet to be equaled. He was never vulgar in his "touches," but employed often hilarious visual suggestions, thus making it quite clear as to what was really going on behind those closed bedroom doors.

DESIGN FOR LIVING (1933) was adapted to the screen by Ben Hecht from Noel Coward's play. Miriam Hopkins stars as a commercial artist, who becomes smitten with both Gary Cooper, a struggling painter, and starving playwright Fredric March. The trio decides to live together...platonically...but you can imagine how long that aspect of the relationship lasts...and the problems that it causes. Edward Everett Horton co-stars in this witty, well-played comedy.

The Criterion Collection has released a marvelous 2-disc edition of DESIGN FOR LIVING that, aside from a new high-definition digital restoration with uncompressed monaural sound, also includes selected scene commentary by film professor William Paul, an interview with Joseph McBride on Lubitsch, plus a 1964 British television version of the play introduced by Coward and, best of all, the short sequence that Lubitsch directed for IF I HAD A MILLION (1932) featuring Charles Laughton. It was the funniest bit in that picture.

Finally, there is a booklet containing an essay by film critic Kim Morgan.

© Michael B. Druxman
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Ellington VINE VOICE on December 3, 2009
Format: VHS Tape
One of the most delectable ménage-trois in the history of cinema, the pairing of Fredric March, Gary Cooper and the GLORIOUS Miriam Hopkins for this hilarious 1933 romantic comedy was truly inspired and is really hard to top, even today. Sadly, this cannot be purchased except for within a collection of Gary Cooper hits, so it may not be an easily accessible film (I saw it on TCM and have locked it only my DVR) but if you can get your hands on it (local library maybe) I strongly suggest you take the time to see it.

The film tells of two American men, playwright Tom Chambers and painter George Curtis, who meet and fall for Gilda while on a train. The three soon move into the same Paris flat and start a strange yet charmingly workable relationship (no touchy-touchy). The relationship is tested when each man tries to get exclusive rites to Gilda's affections, and when the intrusive (well-meaning) Max Plunkett makes his feelings for Gilda and her situation clear, things begin to get dicey.

For me, this is just delightful from start to finish. I think I mentioned this when reviewing `Trouble in Paradise'. Miriam Hopkins did three films basically back-to-back with director Ernst Lubitsch, and this is one of the best. My favorite is still `The Smiling Lieutenant', but this one sports Hopkins shining moment. It is the most universally sound, especially in the comedic department. It has the gags and the intellectual banter down to a science.

Such a blessed pairing across the board.

Of the two leading men, my vote goes to March, who is just stunning here. It is nice to see Cooper take on a role that was very far removed from what he was used to, but he does at times feel a little out of place. March is perfection here, truly outstanding.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 30, 2011
Format: DVD
There's no doubt about what's going on in Design for Living, a delightful high comedy about a ménage a trois, written by Noel Coward as rewritten by Ben Hecht and directed by Ernst Lubitsch...and it's not hanky panky. No, it's just joyous, straightforward sex.

Please note, before any fastidious persons who fancy themselves "reviewers" nail me to a tree. I have watched this movie more than once when it was released as part of The Gary Cooper Collection. It looked good then, and - I plead guilty to not having watched it yet in the newly released Criterion edition - I expect Criterion has done it proud. I plan to buy it. I have no idea what the extras may be like, but then I seldom watch the extras or listen to any film's commentary.

When two artists, the painter George Curtis (Gary Cooper) and the playwright Tom Chambers (Fredric March), encounter Gilda Farrell (Miriam Hopkins) on the train to Paris, their 11-year friendship is going to be intriguingly tested. Gilda (with a soft "g") captures them both, and she reciprocates but can't choose. And why should she? She moves in with them. There's only one solution, however, to the inevitable problem. "Boys," she tells them "it's the only thing we can do. Let's forget sex." And with that, of course, neither they nor we can. Says Gilda to George and Tom later, "It's true we had a gentleman's agreement, but unfortunately, I am no gentleman." And says Tom to Gilda later, "George betrayed me for you. Without wishing to flatter you, I understood that. I can still understand it. But you betrayed me for George. An incredible choice!"

Ben Hecht often bragged that only one line of Coward's survived in his screenplay.
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