Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Touch of Lubitsch - Tuesday on TCM


Loves of Pharaoh (1929) stars Emil Jannings
Beginning at 6:15 am Eastern/3:15 am Pacific on Tuesday, January 28, Turner Classic Movies will treat its viewers to thirteen hours of 'the Lubitsch Touch'.

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
TCM's seven film tribute will close in the early evening/afternoon with one of the director's great masterpieces, To Be or Not to Be (1942), a stunning savage/hilarious satire starring the divinely paired Carole Lombard and Jack Benny. In between, viewers will have the chance to enjoy hours of Lubitsch's  wit, sophistication and precision in classics ranging from The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927) a silent film made in the U.S., starring Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer, to The Merry Widow (1934, Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald), Ninotchka (1939, Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas), one of his very, very finest - The Shop Around the Corner (1940, James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan) and That Uncertain Feeling (1941, Merle Oberon, Melvyn Douglas).


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

10 comments:

  1. Tuesday will be full of sly laughs.

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    1. ...and a very occasional outright guffaw (To Be or Not to Be)

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  2. Seven is not enough for Ernst. Where is LOVE PARADE? But, hey, I'm not complaining because I'll be too busy watching.

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    1. I agree completely agree, Rick. Would like to see ANGEL (among many others). I don't know if TCM has ever done a major Lubitsch tribute but if not, it's time!

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  3. Oh, how delightful. I must record The Student Prince. I had it DVRed and then erased it by mistake.

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    1. Marsha, is that you there in the lion mask? I'm going to be DVRing THE STUDENT PRINCE and LOVES OF PHARAOH. I should probably record SHOP and TO BE, too, since I can watch both again and again.

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    2. ha ha - yes - that was me - I forgot to slip back into my own identity -going coo coo!

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    3. I've been having the same identity problem lately - am going coo coo, too...

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  4. I think I may get a copy of the "What would Lubitsch have done?" for myself.

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    1. What a great idea! I may have to steal it...

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