Trouble in Paradise (The Criterion Collection)
The Criterion Collection
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When thief Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall) meets his true love in pick-pocket Lily (Miriam Hopkins), they embark on a scam to rob lovely perfume company executive Mariette Colet (Kay Francis). But when Gaston becomes romantically entangles with Mme. Colet, their larcenous ruse is jeopardized and Gaston is forced to choose between two beautiful women. Legendary director Ernst Lubitsch's masterful touch is in full flower Trouble in Paradise, a pinnacle of the sophisticated romantic comedy, loaded with sparkling dialogue, witty innuendo, and elegant comic invention.
Trouble in Paradise is the supreme example of "the Lubitsch touch," that mastery of comic timing, diamond-cutter precision, and Continental sophistication that made Ernst Lubitsch a household name and the real star of every movie he directed. A pair of prodigiously talented, utterly charming scoundrels (Herbert Marshall, Miriam Hopkins) become personal assistants to an aristocratic Parisian widow (Kay Francis). Their target is her fortune, but she's such an elegant lady, and so agreeably smitten with her new right-hand man, that he's tempted to pursue a secondary objective. Marshall, Hopkins, and Francis aren't remembered as major stars, but in this enchanted moment they are sublime. Likewise the peerlessly pixilated Edward Everett Horton and Charlie Ruggles as the widow's stuffed-shirt suitors. Trouble in Paradise is one of the best comedies ever made. There's not a line, word, or pause that doesn't belong exactly where it is, when it is, as it is. --Richard T. Jameson
- New digital transfer, with restored image and sound
- New video introduction by director Peter Bogdanovich
- Ernst Lubitsch's 1917 short film Das fidele Gefangnis (The Merry Jail)
- 1940 Screen Guild Theater radio program featuring Ernst Lubitsch, Jack Benny, Claudette Colbert, and Basil Rathbone
- Tributes to Lubitsch, written by Billy Wilder, Leonard Maltin, Cameron Crowe, Roger Ebert, and others
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Top customer reviews
If you like Lubitsch, you'll love this one. Kay Francis said that she wanted to be forgotten, and she has nearly gotten her wish. Take a moment to remember this beautiful and talented actress, in a very amusing film. You'll enjoy it!
Any quibbles I have with this disk has nothing to do with the film itself but with the presentation. The film is very old (1932) and some aging and artifacts are to be expected. However, the justly famous opening sequence is so dark and the details so muted as to be barely discernible. Every time the camera floats outside and into the dark during the first part of the film--detail is lost. The good news is that all of the indoor scenes are bright and sharp and possess good contrast. Criterion has obviously done some extensive cleaning and work on the film because other than the night scenes (too bad about Miriam Hopkin's entrance in a gondola) the film looks great Also the sound while maintaining a slight hiss throughout is free of any pops or crackles and is very clear. I have seen cleaner sharper prints of this film than the one that Criterion apparently got from Universal (Universal was responsible for the slightly soft and faded print of The Scarlet Empress that Crtierion released as well). Other than this complaint the print is generally fine with only minor scratches present primarily at some of the dissolves and edits.
The disc includes several great extras that are worth perusing for even casual fans of Lubitsch. Scott Eyman a Lubitsch biographer provides a nice commentary featuring lots of behind the scenes information, biographical info, the place of Trouble in Paradise in comparison with Lutbitsch's other films and its influence on other film comedies of the period as well as some interpretation of some of the film and its famous sequences. In addition to this, Criterion has managed to include a forty minute silent film by Lubitsch--"The Merry Jail" that shows a different style but includes some of the elements that would make Trouble in Paradise such a gem. There is also an introduction by film historian/director Peter Bogdanovich that provides his insight into the significance of the film. A very nice feature that runs about ten minutes. There is also a radio program featuring Lubitsch with a group of Hollywood luminaries, fascinating but one longs for visuals of this event, and the standard Criterion essay included with the chapter menu insert. Finally there are some written tributes to Lubitsch from some of his contemporaries, as well as current film makers and critics. This is a text only feature but sometimes features the comments in the writer's own handwriting.
Overall, I'd have to recommend this disk wholeheartedly. Criterion deserves huge praise just for making this masterpiece available for the home viewer and they also manage to include wonderful extras that support the film beautifully. The presentation is a little flawed but it is more than adequate to appreciate the treasure on display.
Then again, perhaps Ernst Lubitsh's Trouble in Paradise was a phantasm all along; some beautiful coincidence - like seeing a falling star out of the corner of your eye at midnight on your birthday. Whatever. To say that they don't make them like that anymore doesn't quite capture it. They must have passed legislation at some point outlawing this kind of sophistication and intelligence. I won't bore you quoting passages or praising individual performances. Suffice to say that this movie won't make you belly laugh once, but I guarantee that you will have a knowing smile on your face from beginning to end.
If you really want to be reminded of the kind of smarts you're capable of, buy this movie.
Ah, the "Lubitsh touch!" --Mykal Banta
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