Sunday, June 15, 2008
The Dramahound has long been interested in German theatre and film. Recently, I had a freelance gig writing about various subjects that ended months before it was supposed to, so I got stuck with a couple of chunks of prose on a variety of subjects, including Ernst Lubitsch.
Lubitsch's career spanned wide-ranging changes in film. When he began, it was as a high school dropout who was fortunate enough to join the famous Max Reinhardt's Deutsches Theater in Berlin. Around this time, Lubitsch began acting in comedic films, and eventually directed himself. He often played a yokel character, recently moved to a city and unfamiliar with city ways. Out of this broad comedic sense grew Lubitsch's light, erotic touch, which he carried over into some of his lighter silent feature films, like "The Marriage Circle" and "Lady Windemere's Fan." Unlike many German emigres (Bertholt Brecht, Thomas Mann, Reinhardt, etc.), Lubitsch came to Hollywood in the 1920s, where he had an unsuccessful partnership with Mary Pickford that lasted for one film. He went on to direct "Ninotchka," "The Shop Around the Corner," and "The Merry Widow."
By the time of his death in 1947, his films were famous throughout the world, and his distinctive directing style had earned the soubriquet "the Lubitsch touch." Lubitsch's admirers included Alfred Hitchcock, Francois Truffaunt and Billy Wilder.
This site gives a good overview of Lubitsch's life: http://www.lubitsch.com/biography.html