July 26

LUBITSCH: THE CHAPLIN TOUCH

What did Hollywood’s pre-eminent observer of social mores learn from the master of pathos-drenched slapstick? This program explores the little-known connections between the work of Charlie Chaplin (1889–1977) and Ernst Lubitsch (1892–1947). The two directors were friends and, before its release, Chaplin showed Lubitsch a rough cut of A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate, an atypical Chaplin film in that it is neither a comedy (its subtitle should be regarded in earnest) nor features its director onscreen (other than in a very brief cameo). Working on his breakthrough American film The Marriage Circle around the same time, Lubitsch praised Chaplin’s film’s intelligence and sophistication, seeing it as a “great step forward.” Our program concludes with The Oyster Princess, a wildly inventive demonstration that “the Lubitsch Touch” could also encompass broad slapstick.

July 26

7:00pm THE MARRIAGE CIRCLE
Ernst Lubitsch (1924) 85 mins
Unclassified 15+ (unless accompanied by an adult)

Lubitsch’s breakthrough American film established the sophisticated style and sensibility that marked his greatest work in Hollywood. This highly influential comedy of manners, itself inspired by Chaplin’s A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate and remade as One Hour With You, fixates on the flirtations, indiscretions and infidelities of a “circle” of well-heeled married couples in licentious Vienna. Lubitsch’s elegant roundelay features knowing performances by a wonderful array of silent-era talent including Florence Vidor, Monte Blue, Marie Prevost and the impossibly suave, Adolphe Menjou.

Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation and The Film Foundation.

CTEQ ANNOTATION:
Nuanced Complexity: The Marriage Circle and the Early Days of the ‘Lubitsch Touch’ by Isabella McNeill


8:35pm A WOMAN OF PARIS: A DRAMA OF FATE
Charles Chaplin (1923) 78 mins PG

A commercial failure on its initial release, Chaplin’s bold and subtle romantic drama is now widely regarded as one of the key works of his long career. This sophisticated, groundbreakingly complex drama of manners involves a French girl (Chaplin favourite Edna Purviance) who, due to a misunderstanding, fails to marry her sweetheart and ends up in Paris as the mistress of a perennial sophisticate (Adolphe Menjou). One of only two features Chaplin directed and didn’t star in, it was a key influence on Lubitsch’s American career.

35mm print courtesy of the National Film & Sound Archive, Australia.

CTEQ ANNOTATION:
A Woman of Paris by James L. Neibaur


10:00pm THE OYSTER PRINCESS
Ernst Lubitsch (1919) 48 mins
Unclassified 15+ (unless accompanied by an adult)

This exuberant, extravagant romp represents the director’s famous “touch” in its earliest embryonic incarnation. In true screwball style, the film is laden with mistaken identities, romantic rivalries and good-natured digs at the rich, both ancien and nouveau. Over-the-top set pieces involving crazed foxtrots and multitudes of servants prefigure The Love Parade a decade later. Features a winning performance by popular star Ossi Oswalda, a key actor in Lubitsch’s early work, widely known as “the German Mary Pickford.”

35mm print courtesy of the National Film & Sound Archive, Australia.

CTEQ ANNOTATION:
Die Austernprinzessin by Michael Ewins

April 12 & April 14
OPENING NIGHTS: MARLENE DIETRICH

April 19 – May 5
THE BIG CARNIVAL: THE FILMS OF BILLY WILDER

May 12 – May 26
CAST A DARK SHADOW: THE BEAUTIFUL SADNESS OF DIRK BOGARDE

June 2 – June 16
WILDFLOWERS: DANCING, DESIRE AND FREEDOM IN THE FILMS OF GILLIAN ARMSTRONG (Postponed)

June 30 – July 14
DRIFTING STATES: THE FILMS OF APICHATPONG WEERASETHAKUL

July 21 – August 4
JEAN COCTEAU: THE POETRY OF DREAMS