Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Kay is in Trouble

Trouble in Paradise (1932) is a film that requires you to keep your eyes on the screen. So much happens here that concentration is essential.  The film opens when two thieves - Herbert Marshall (as Gaston Monescu) and Miriam Hopkins (as Lily) - meet and fall in love in Venice, as each attempts to rob the other one!  The following year, they are still together and still on the prowl for victims.  Enter wealthy widow Mariette Colet (Kay Francis); Gaston steals her purse, collects the reward for returning it, and convinces Mariette to hire him as her secretary (with Lily as his assistant). Sound simple? It's not.

All of the characters are well developed, from our leads to various supporting characters.  Besides the ever wonderful Ms. Francis - who makes Mariette a bit of an airhead, but a brainy one (yes, a contradiction, but this film is full of contradictions), we have Herbert Marshall being oh-so debonaire, and Miriam Hopkins. Quite honestly, Ms. Hopkins can be an annoying actress - she is mannered and at times over-blown.  However, here she is quite funny as the naughty Lily.  When she morphs into Gaston's assistant, Mlle. Votier, she is hysterical -wearing glasses, talking about her little brother, and her mother (who, of course, are sadly dead), and trying to be Mariette's new best friend.

For supporting players, we have some remarkable actors:  Edward Everett Horton as Gaston's Venice victim Fran├žois Fileba, Charlie Ruggles as The Major, one of Mariette's many suitors (men she loves to lead on, but has no intention of marrying. She's quite happy being in control of her own life), and C Aubrey Smith as Giron, the Chairman of Mariette's company who has been embezzling from her for years. He is a riot when he threatens to resign... eventually.

Director Ernst Lubitsch is having lots of fun here.  Watch for the love scene between Mariette and Gaston.  We know exactly what is going on, as their shadows superimpose on a bed.  Lubitsch doesn't need to be crass; he easily gets his points across by innuendo.  We also have gowns by Travis Banton, and gorgeous accessories and set design.  A major focus of an early scene is a purse, and an exquisite purse it is!

We end with a clip - including the purse!

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