Monday, October 28, 2013

Cinematheque to show eight classic comedies by Ernst Lubitsch

[Press release from the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Eight elegant, sophisticated American comedy classics of uncommon verbal and visual wit – all directed by Ernst Lubitsch – will show between November 2 and December 14 at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, 11141 East Boulevard in University Circle. The series, entitled “A Touch of Lubitsch,” celebrates the work of one of history’s most exalted filmmakers. Lubitsch (1892-1947) was called "a man of pure cinema" by Alfred Hitchcock and "a giant" by Orson Welles.
     “In my 27 years of running the Cinematheque,” said Cinematheque Director John Ewing, “I have never presented a Lubitsch series here. And it’s about time I did. He’s not only one of the greatest comedy directors; he’s one of the greatest directors who ever lived. I think newbies will be surprised by how clever and funny and touching these ‘old’ movies can be.”

     Born in Germany, where he joined Max Reinhardt's theatre company before becoming a successful silent screen comedian and director, Lubitsch came to Hollywood in 1922 and never left. But he brought the Continent with him. Lubitsch's American films tended to be set in an idealized, refined old Europe created on the studio backlot ("I prefer Paris, Paramount, to Paris, France," he once said) where attractive, cosmopolitan, well-mannered men and women had time to indulge in the nonstop pursuit of money and sex.
     Lubitsch's films (many written by the great Samson Raphaelson) were often cynical, amoral, and risqué, so to skirt the censors' scissors, he had to be discreet in his depiction of taboo subjects. He managed to do this via a virtuosic, often elliptical visual style that used objects (e.g., closed doors) as metaphors, thus slyly suggesting illicit activities rather than showing them explicitly. This ability came to be celebrated as the "Lubitsch touch."
     Though Lubitsch was only 55 when he died, he directed 72 films (44 features and 28 shorts) in a career that spanned four decades. The Cinematheque series concentrates on his late studio comedies of the 1930s and 1940s, which include many of his greatest and most famous works—from Trouble in Paradise and To Be or Not To Be to Ninotchka and The Shop Around the Corner (remade as 1998’s You’ve Got Mail). These movies, at their best, are "at once elegant and ribald, sophisticated and earthy, urbane and bemused, frivolous yet profound" (Michael Wilmington). And all will be shown in 35mm prints that should sparkle as much as the wit.
     All of the films will show in the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Aitken Auditorium. Admission to each movie is $9; Cinematheque members and CIA I.D. holders $7; age 25 & under $6. Free parking for filmgoers is available in the adjacent CIA lot, located off of East Boulevard. For further information, visit or call John Ewing or Tim Harry at (216) 421-7450.
SAT        11/2       5:15 PM                TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1942) introduced by John Ewing
SAT        11/9       5:15 PM                NINOTCHKA (1939)
SUN       11/10     4:00 PM                NINOTCHKA (1939)
SAT        11/16     5:15 PM                TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932)
SUN       11/17     4:00 PM                TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932) introduced by Philip Skerry
SAT        11/23     5:15 PM                DESIGN FOR LIVING (1933)
SUN       11/24     8:15 PM                DESIGN FOR LIVING (1933)
SAT        11/30     5:15 PM                ANGEL (1937)
SUN       12/1       8:25 PM                ANGEL (1937)
SAT        12/7       5:15 PM                BLUEBEARD’S EIGHTH WIFE (1938)
SUN       12/8       8:35 PM                BLUEBEARD’S EIGHTH WIFE (1938)
FRI          12/13     9:15 PM                THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940)
SAT        12/14     5:15 PM                HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943)
SAT        12/14     7:30 PM                THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940)

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