Trouble in Paradise (1932)

Trouble in Paradise (1932), produced and directed by Ernst Lubitsch.

Two jewel thieves, both pretending to be wealthy, try some sort of grift on each other in romantic Venice. Quickly recognizing the truth, they fall in love and begin working as a team.

In Paris the dirty rotten scoundrels try to take down a formidable perfume heiress. Complicating the caper: the male team member finds the mark pretty alluring and she is uninhibited in returning his admiration. Not everyone can be made happy.

Wit flows from a Lubitsch picture like water from a tap. Although this is pre-Code adult sexual shenanigans we have no hint of crudity. Refined as it is it still could not be shown after the Code came in.

I've seen "fade to black" as implying off-scene sex but this is the first time I've seen "fade to transparent, then invisible". First they are on the couch, then they're not. Must be elsewhere.

I think it was Truffaut who said "If you told me you had seen a Lubitsch film with a single unnecessary scene, I would call you a liar".

Debonair Herbert Marshall and bold Miriam Hopkins are our crime team. Kay Francis is their target. Edward Everett Horton, Charlie Ruggles and C. Aubrey Smith provide great comic support.

Marshall's wooden leg (a WW1 injury) prevented him from walking easily and they film around that, and use a double when he runs up and down the stairs. Francis had a slight speech impediment and had difficulty pronouncing her "R"s. She was cruelly mocked as the "wavishing Kay Fwancis". It's not distracting unless you are listening for it.

Francis was a member of the original Box Office Poison list. Others mentioned as not selling tickets in 1938: Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, Luise Rainer, John Barrymore, Dolores del Río, Katharine Hepburn, Edward Arnold, and Fred Astaire.

How the wheel turns.

Available on DVD from Criterion. The image is soft and often dark. I hope the elements exist for restoration. Good commentary track.