|Loves of Pharaoh (1929) stars Emil Jannings|
Kicking off TCM's birthday tribute/Lubitsch-fest will be the spectacular The Loves of Pharaoh (1922), a grand silent historical epic. Made in Germany and financed by Paramount's European film Alliance (EFA), the film would be the last in the series of such epics Lubitsch directed during his reign as something of a 'German DeMille.' He was soon on his way to America, where his star would continue to rise.
|To Be or Not to Be (1942), Carole Lombard and Jack Benny|
Ernst Lubitsch (1892 - 1947) got his start as an actor and was a member of Max Reinhardt's famed Deutsches Theater company from 1911 - 1918. He began acting in films in 1913 and went on to appear in his own pictures. His final onscreen performance was a starring role in Sumurun (1920), which he directed in Germany, as 'Yeggar - the hunchback.'
Lubitsch emigrated to the U.S. in 1923, following the success of Loves of Pharaoh, making his American directorial debut with Rosita (1923), starring Mary Pickford. He made his way around Hollywood early on - working for Warners, United Artists and MGM, but it was at Paramount that, for a time, he made his home, eventually becoming director of production. Later in his career he would work for MGM and produce independently, but his final films were made under contract to 20th Century Fox. Unfortunately, his health was failing by that time...
Nominated for three Best Director Oscars over the course of his career, Ernst Lubitsch was recognized by the Academy in 1947 with an honorary award for 25 years of "distinguished contributions to the art of the motion picture." Eight months later, in November 1947, at the age of 55, Lubitsch died of a heart attack, his sixth. His final film project had been That Lady in Ermine, a Betty Grable vehicle that was completed by Otto Preminger and released in 1948.
Billy Wilder, for whom Lubitsch had been mentor, famously kept a sign on the wall of his office in tribute to the master he forever admired, "What would Lubitsch have done?"
|Greta Garbo and Ernst Lubitsch on the set of Ninotcka|