I feel sorry for people who have never seen an Ernst Lubitsch movie; they are missing such delights. There is no way to really describe what exactly it is that makes most of his pictures so charming, funny, human, stylized, unique. During the time of his world-wide popularity (ca. 1924 till after his death in 1947), people called it “The Lubitsch Touch,” which proved that everyone could feel it, but no one could adequately define it. Over the years, I’ve tried to explain why I love Lubitsch so much and what it is that makes him so ultra-special, in a place all by himself. There’s never been anyone like Ernst Lubitsch, though many filmmakers have tried, they never came close. In Esquire, back in the early '70s, I did a monthly column and devoted one entirely to Lubitsch, which was reprinted in my collection, Pieces of Time (1973/1985); and for my directors’ interview book, Who the Devil Made It (1997), I expanded this into a section of the Introduction called “The Director I Never Met”---but most wanted to! And finally, in 2008 I tried again in a long piece for Peter Kaplan’s The New York Observer, the title of which states the point succinctly: “The Importance of Seeing Ernst”. I still think it’s of the utmost importance; if more people were enjoying Lubitsch movies, they would be happier, more hopeful. Here’s the link to the article on their website if you want to read about why pictures like Trouble in Paradise, The Smiling Lieutenant, The Shop Around the Corner, The Love Parade, The Merry Widow, Cluny Brown, and Heaven Can Wait, among others, are among my favorites, and as good as the medium can offer: treasures waiting to be found.
By Peter Bogdanovich | Peter Bogdanovich May 4, 2011 at 1:00AM