ernst lubitsch

‘Squirrels to the Nuts’ Women and Nonconformity in the films of Ernst Lubitsch – Episode 7

‘What would Lubitsch have done?’ Every director should have this sign hanging prominently in their office, a reminder of a unique individual and his enormous talent for showing things differently. Episode 7 is devoted to Lubitsch and his wonderful films, full of warmth, humour, style, wit and above all fearless in their depiction of sex, marriage and even war. The women in Lubitsch’s films are not captains of industry but are smart, knowing and they understand exactly what to do and why. The films we discuss: The Marriage Circle (1924), One Hour With You (1932), Trouble in Paradise (1932), Design for Living (1933), Angel (1937), Ninotchka (1939), To Be Or Not To Be (1942), and Cluny Brown (1946).

Our He’s a Keeper segment this month honours the inimitable George Sanders.

Sources:
All About Eve (1950) Dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz (DVD) Twentieth Century Fox.
Angel (1937) Dir. Ernst Lubitsch (DVD) Paramount Pictures.
Cluny Brown (1946) Dir. Ernst Lubisch (DVD) Twentieth Century Fox.
Design for Living (1933) Dir. Ernst Lubitsch (YouTube) Paramount Pictures.
Eyman, S. (2000). Ernst Lubitsch: laughter in paradise. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Journey to Italy (1954) Dir. Roberto Rossellini (DVD) Titanus Distribuzione.
Ninotchka (1939) Dir. Ernst Lubitsch (DVD) Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Noble, R. (1934) ‘The Very Thought of You’ [Recorded by George Sanders] on The George Sanders Touch … Songs for the Lovely Lady (1958). Available at:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7izmInLhM8
Novak, I., Dolar M. and Krecic, J. (2014) Lubitsch Can’t Wait: a collection of ten philosophical discussions on Ernst Lubitsch’s film comedy. New York: Columbia UP.
One Hour with You (1932) Dir. Ernst Lubitsch (DVD) Paramount Pictures.
Rebecca (1940) Dir. Alfred Hitchcock (DVD) United Artists.
Sanders, G. (1960) Memoirs of a professional cad. (2015) London: Dean Street Press.
Slavitt, D.R. (2009) George Sanders, Zsa Zsa and me. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
Stagg, S. (2001) All about All About Eve St. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.
‘Super Special Picture of the Year’ (1934) [Recorded by Yacht Club Boys and Ernst
Lubitsch] Available at: www.lubitsch.com/audio.html
The Marriage Circle (1924) Dir. Ernst Lubitsch (YouTube) Warner Bros./ UFA.
The Moon and Sixpence (’42) Dir. Albert Lewin (YouTube) United Artists.
Thompson, K. (2005) Herr Lubitsch goes to Hollywood: German and American film after World War I. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Trouble in Paradise (1932) Dir. Ernst Lubitsch (DVD) Paramount Pictures.

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Crime Queens: Outlaw Women in Film 1930 – 1950 – Episode 6

Our sixth episode focuses on the women who turn to crime out of desperation, no femme fatales here, just real women swapping the mop for a gun. We reference our third episode on the Pre-codes (wherein women used their sexuality to gain social mobility} to women now turning to crime to climb out of poverty. The films we discuss include Paid (1930), Ladies They Talk About (1933), Blondie Johnson (1933), Gun Crazy (1950) and Caged (1950).

In keeping with our crime theme we devote some quality time to the fabulous Robert Mitchum in our He’s a Keeper segment.

Crime Queens: Outlaw Women in Film 1930 – 1950 – Episode 6 by Any Ladle’s Sweet

Our sixth episode focuses on the women who turn to crime out of desperation, no femme fatale’s here, just real women swapping the mop for a gun. We reference our third episode on the Pre-codes (wherein women used their sexuality to gain social mobility} to women now turning to crime to climb out of poverty.

Sources:
Blondie Johnson (1933) Dir. Ray Enright [DVD] Warner Bros.
Caged (1950) Dir. John Cromwell [DVD] Warner Bros.
Cape Fear (1962) Dir. J. Lee Thompson [DVD] Universal.
Gun Crazy (1950) Dir. Joseph H. Lewis [DVD] United Artists.
Jaggar, A. M., & Bordo, S. (1989). Gender/body/knowledge: Feminist reconstructions of being and knowing. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press.
Ladies They Talk About (1933) Dir. Howard Bretherton and William Keighley [DVD] Warner Bros.
Out of the Past (1947) Dir. Jacques Tourneur [DVD] RKO.
Paid (1930) Dir. Sam Wood [DVD] MGM.
Russell, J. (1985) Jane Russell: An Autobiography London: Sidgwick & Jackson.
The Lusty Men (1952) Dir. Nicholas Ray [DVD] RKO.
The Night of the Hunter (1955) Dir. Charles Laughton [DVD] United Artists.
Thirteen Women (1932) Dir. George Archainbaud [Internet Archive] RKO.
Brainy Broads essay from Smart Chicks on Screen, Sheri Chinen Biesen

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Independent Vision: The Films of Dorothy Arzner – Episode 5

Dorothy Arzner was one of the very few women who established a name for herself as a director in the film industry of the 1920s and ’30s, what remains to this day the largest body of work by a woman director within the studio system, for years she was the sole female member of the Directors Guild. Nonetheless, she has been virtually ignored in most film histories. It was only with the emergence of ’70s feminism that scholars began to reclaim women such as Arzner from relative obscurity. She was central to the development of the studio system, the genre film, the development of sound technology (inventor of the fishpole microphone), the star system, and the representation of women in the Hollywood mainstream.

However brief her film career, she stands as an early example of a woman who insisted upon creative autonomy and control in her work. Another reason for retiring from Hollywood was that she felt that the kind of pictures she was interested in making were no longer encouraged or supported in Hollywood.

Arzner’s directorial style was consistently revealed by an emphasis on costume and that changes in a woman’s life and relationships to each other were emphasised through costume and dress. As the title of a Jane Gaines essay put it “dress tells the woman’s story’ Her main themes focused on female friendship and communities, the uneasy navigation of the relationships between men and women, class differences and always with an emphasis on performance and costume. For much of Arzner’s work, sexuality stands as a threat to women’s community. Women, in the heterosexual contract, must play their part, as opposed to the more “honest’ form of love between women.

A quote from director Francine Parker in an essay about Dorothy sums up her idea of the director’s role involving both authority and collaboration:
“…a woman has a different point of view on life. And the world does take on a rather startling and surprising look when observed through the eyes of a skilled, talented, hard-working, learned and thoroughly unintimidated female”.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources:
Casella, D. (2009) ‘What women want: the complex world of Dorothy Arzner and her cinematic women
The Journal of Cinema & Media Vol. 50 Issue 1/2, pp. 235-270.
Christopher Strong (1933) Dir. Dorothy Arzner [DVD] RKO.
Craig’s Wife (1936) Dir. Dorothy Arzner [Internet Archive] Columbia.
Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) Dir. Dorothy Arzner [DVD] RKO.
First Comes Courage (1943) Dir. Dorothy Arzner [Internet Archive] Columbia.
Honor Among Lovers (1931) Dir. Dorothy Arzner [YouTube] Paramount.
Mayne, J. (1994) Directed by Dorothy Arzner. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana UP.
Merrily We Go to Hell (1932) Dir. Dorothy Arzner [DVD] Paramount.
The Bride Wore Red (1937) Dir. Dorothy Arzner [DVD] MGM.
The Wild Party (1929) Dir. Dorothy Arzner [Internet Archive] Paramount.
www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sigh…r-queen-hollywood
sensesofcinema.com/2003/great-directors/arzner/

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Any Ladle’s Sweet That Dishes Out Some Gravy! The Women – Episode 4

It’s all about the women! In our 4th episode we delve deep into the 1939 all female classic, The Women. Directed by George Cukor, this biting social satire includes an impressive ensemble cast, Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, and Paulette Goddard to name but a few. Shining with a sharp script by Anita Loos, we discuss the often overlooked subtleties and artistry of this under-appreciated film.

Any Ladle’s Sweet That Dishes Out Some Gravy! The Women – Episode 4 by Any Ladle’s Sweet

It’s all about the women! In our 4th episode we delve deep into the 1939 all female classic, The Women. Directed by George Cukor, this biting social satire includes an impressive ensemble cast, Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, and Paulette Goddard to name but a few.

Sources:
Nugent, F.S. (1939) ‘Review: The Women’. The New York Times, 22 September.
www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=…1DFBF668382629EDE
Carey, G. (1988) Anita Loos: A biography. London: Bloomsbury.
Considine, S. (1989) Bette & Joan: the divine feud. London: Sphere.
Crawford, J. (1962) A portrait of Joan: The Autobiography of Joan Crawford. (with Jane Kesner Ardmore). New York: Doubleday.
Fontaine, J (1978) No bed of roses. New York: Morrow.
Lambert, G. (1973) On Cukor. London: W.H. Allen.
Loos, A. (1974) Kiss Hollywood goodbye. London: W.H. Allen.
Lugowski, D.M. (2011) ‘Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford: rivals at the glamour factory’, in McLean, A.L (ed.) Glamour in a golden age: movie stars of the 1930s. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
McGilligan, P. (1991) George Cukor: A double life. London: Faber and Faber.
Russell, R. (1977) Life is a banquet. (with Chris Chase). New York: Random House.
Thomas, B. (1978) Joan Crawford: a biography. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
The Women (1939) Dir. George Cukor. [DVD] MGM.
seul-le-cinema.blogspot.ie/2008/12/women-1939.html

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You Don’t Own Me: Women’s Sexuality in the Pre-Code Era – Episode 3

Our third episode focuses on the small window of films made in Hollywood between 1930 and 1934, known usually as ‘Pre-Code’. The censorship rules of the ‘Hays Code’ was introduced to Hollywood studios in 1930 but was not actually enforced until late 1934. During these years studios were pumping out films testing the limits of propriety, usually with strong central female characters using their wiles to break out of poverty and marital drudgery. This month’s He’s a Keeper is devoted to the charming Melvyn Douglas. Lastly, an honourable mention to the late Setsuko Hara.

You Don’t Own Me: Women’s Sexuality in the Pre-Code Era – Episode 3 by Any Ladle’s Sweet

Our third episode focuses on the small window of films made in Hollywood between 1930 and 1934, known usually as ‘Pre-Code’. The censorship rules of the ‘Hays Code’ was introduced to Hollywood studios in 1930 but was not actually enforced until late 1934.

Sources:
A Woman’s Face (1941) Dir. George Cukor. [DVD] MGM.
Baby Face (1933) Dir. Alfred E. Green. [DVD] Warner Bros.
Bed of Roses (1933) Dir. Gregory La Cava. [DVD] RKO.
Doherty, T. (1999) Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality and Insurrection in American
Cinema 1930-1934. New York: Columbia University Press.
Douglas, M. (1986) See You at the Movies: The Autobiography of Melvyn Douglas (with Tom Arthur). Boston: University Press of America.
Jacobs, L. (1991) The Wages of Sin: Censorship and the Fallen Woman 1928-1942. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
LaSalle, M. (2000) Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Loos, A. (1974) Kiss Hollywood Goodbye. London: W.H. Allen.
Loy, M. (1987) Being and Becoming (with James Kotsilibas-Davis). London: Bloomsbury.
Brooks, Louise. (1974) Lulu in Hollywood. USA: University of Minnesota Press.
Ninotchka (1939) Dir. Ernst Lubitsch. [DVD] MGM.
Penthouse (1933) Dir. W.S. Van Dyke. [DVD] MGM.
Possessed (1931) Dir. Clarence Brown. [DVD] MGM.
Red Headed Woman (1932) Dir. Jack Conway. [DVD] MGM.
Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise (1931) Dir. Robert Z. Leonard [DVD] MGM.
The Divorcee (1930) Dir. Robert Z. Leonard. [DVD] MGM.
The Easiest Way (1931) Dir. Jack Conway [DVD] MGM.
Theodora Goes Wild (1936) Dir. Richard Boleslawski. [YouTube] Columbia.
Third Finger, Left Hand (1940) Dir. Robert Z Leonard. [DVD] MGM.
THAT scene in Possessed – www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWmI88_hP0M

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