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Ernest Lubitsch

The primary conflict in his films battle between sexual attraction and the particular state of being of individuals as part of society. An individual has a social position that pulls him in a certain way whereas his sexual attractions might direct him in another. Forbidden Paradise,Cluny Brown,

The Love Parade, Merry Widow and the Student Prince.

In films like Marriage Circle,Lady Windermere’s Fan,So This is Paris,One HourWith You,Angels the character felt their marriages and desires coming in conflict. In Ninotchka and To Be or Not to Be political beliefs pull one way,passion another. In Trouble in Paradise the thief finds his vocation coming in the way of desire.

He simply handled the explosive subject of sex in such ironic and clever ways to take all the passion out of it and turn sex as in the matter of intellect. He could in his silent films convey while shooting of two persons in the same room how they felt for one another with the agency of inanimate articles buttons,mirrors, gloves or hats. Whereas in his sexual comedy he made the sound track and the picture work in opposition. In The Love Parade Maurice Chevalier tells a risque anecdote-if the camera stays outside a window and reveals him telling about an incident that we cannot hear we make up in imagination the words he must be saying. In Merry Widow we see Chevalier and Jeannette MacDonald at a cafe table and the camera doesn’t stray below the table and is above the table cover and on them. Only MacDonalds,’Stop that’,and ‘Don’t do that’ inform us what is going on beneath the table. What we cannot see is left for us to imagine. In the film Angel Lubitsch conveys the essential yet delicate information that the Grand Duchess’ ‘salon’ is merely an euphemism for brothel. He doesn’t show customers or girls working there but he manages to treat an explosive subject without unduly drawing attention to it. He flouted the silly Hollywood Code whenever necessary. Lubitsch showed that sex was merely one kind of an activity between the extreme views advocated by Hollywood: sex destroys or Sex is nonexistent.

compiler:benny

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