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Trouble in Paradise - Criterion Collection [Import USA Zone 1]
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SYNOPSIS: Jean Renoir once said of Ernst Lubitsch ( Ninotchka, The Shop Around the Corner, and To Be or Not to Be): "He invented the modern Hollywood. " And none of the director's films has had greater influence or impact than Trouble in Paradise. With his first comedy of the sound era, Lubitsch created one of cinema's supreme visions of shimmering romance and worldly sophistication.
When career thief Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall) meets glamorous pickpocket Lily (Miriam Hopkins), their love soon takes on a professional dimension as they initiate a plot to rob beautiful perfume magnate Mariette Colet (Kay Francis). But as Gaston gets ever closer to his intended prey, his romantic confusion, as well as the threat that his past will catch up with him, throws their plan into jeopardy.
A breathtakingly nimble and elegant examination of the perils of mixing "business" with pleasure, this gloriously adult and witty comedy features a peerless screenplay by Samson Raphaelson, effervescent performances by its stars (including Charlie Ruggles and Edward Everett Horton), and exquisite direction by the legendary Lubitsch. Rarely equalled, never topped, The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present the UK home viewing première of Trouble in Paradise.
- New high-definition transfer in the film's original aspect ratio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing-impaired
- Illustrated booklet featuring the words of Lubitsch, rare archival imagery, and more
- Further details to be announced nearer the release date!
"The most sophisticated comedy ever produced in Hollywood … The performances, visuals and screenplay are all exquisite. 5 STARS" --Empire Magazine
"It's a masterpiece, as well as being wonderfully good fun. 5 STARS" --Radio Times
"If ever a film slipped down a treat, this one does." --Time Out --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition DVD.
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Belle image, bonus, sous-titres en anglais uniquement.
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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.
We, ordinary people from this era, are not used to such delightful, delicate, sophisticated, witty and subtle screenplays & motion pictures. This film's pacing is perfect, the acting deft, the fun and enjoyment non-stop, Travis Banton's costumes are fabulous, the art-déco settings and the décors are top of the tops, and finally, the cast, an A++.
Herbert Marshall has never been so "bewildered" on the screen (so different from those dull characters he played, for example, in such films as those two landamark Bette Davis' melodramas of the early forties, "The Letter" and "The Little Foxes") as suave and elegant thief Gaston Monescu. Kay Francis (Mariette Colet) has never been so attractive, elegant, as a woman daringly, shamelessly, passionately and madly in love with debonair Marshall, and last but not least, Miriam Hopkins (Lily) was never so charming and beguilingly captivating, as Marshall's partner in crime and love. I will say no more -no spoilers here-, that's all you need to know before watching it.
Edward Everett Horton, Charlie Ruggles (as Francis' two feuding suitors) and C. Aubrey Smith (as the chairman to the board of directors of Francis' company), add expert supporting playing.
Beautifully photographed in black & white, one can easily understand why this motion picture is included in the top ten list of the best american films of all time, as the grandest example of the famed Lubitsch touch. By the way, I must say that the ending really caught me by surprise, a treat!
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
Herbert Marshall is Gaston Monescu, "the man who walked into the bank of Constantinople, and walked out *with* the bank of Constantinople." We first meet him in Venice, where he has completed a robbery of Francois Filiba (the inimitable Edward Everett Horton), just before having a romantic dinner with love Lily Vautier (Miriam Hopkins). They are both career crooks (and she has a secret unknown to him) and their light-hearted pocket picking of each other is an what I imagine would be the ideal romantic byplay.
Their relationship begins to suffer when Gaston begins to put the moves on Mariette Colet (Kay Francis), widow of a cosmetics king, for the 850,000 francs insurance money that is going to be coming in soon. Gaston sets himself up as her personal secretary by laying on the charm. Francis simply glows when around Marshall, and Hopkins (inserting herself as Marshall's secretary) is a perfect delight, fuming at their relationship.
Trouble in Paradise is "ideal" in many ways. It barely treads near reality, but it doesn't matter. This is cinema at its very best. It is funny, sexy, and seems fresh even today, outdistancing the modern idea of "romantic comedy." Fortunately, it is finally available on DVD from Criterion (my original copy was recorded from American Movie Classics). One of the best motion pictures of all time can finally find a modern audience.