Monday, August 6, 2012

Design for Living

The pre-code films of Hollywood always got the raciest subjects on full display. Many of them were bold displays long before they were expected features in today's films.

Ernst Lubitsch's Design for Living focuses on a subject that is fodder for comedies today: the menage a trois. Of course, this was when risky material was still allowed more or less on screen. Lubitsch gets it without getting too risky.

The stars of Design for Living are Gary Cooper, Fredric March and Miriam Hopkins. All three play their parts wonderfully simply because they are their characters. Cooper and March possess charm like no other while Hopkins is wise-cracking and clever. Again, like their characters.

Personally, it comes as surprise that Design for Living has a divine balance of comedic timing among its stars. Then again, this is a Lubitsch film after all. It's practically expected. That's why it's called "the Lubitsch touch".

Design for Living is quite a clever little film. The actors are great, the story sizzles and it just flat out works in a short running time. Graciously, the Criterion Collection gave it an upgrade, so be sure to check it out.

My Rating: *****

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