The famous “Lubitsch touch,” all silky innuendo, is amply evident in this lovely comedy about plain-talking plumber Cluny Brown (Jennifer Jones, in possibly her best performance), who is hired as a maid in a posh British manor, where she blithely breaches class divisions.
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35mm, rewatched. A film that focuses much more on dialogues, characters and actors than on the mise-en-scène, which if first may present some distance, as the film unfolds it's perennially installed in the spectator's consciousness making us accomplices and witnesses of the two protagonists improbable "lifes", being also a powerful testimony of Lubitsch's derision towards the social world that reduces us.
Lubitsch's last finished film and a perfect parting gift, encapsulating the Lubitsch take on so many topics: politics, art, sex, class, America, and that everlasting, innocent desire to enjoy life—or, as the film puts it, "to do the wrong thing at the right time." Note the heroine, too: completing an arc begun with Pola Negri, she's another of his plucky, spunky, vivacious women destined to cause a glorious uproar.
Lubitsch's masterpiece? Money, class, place, death, oblivion, war, Shakespeare: Lubitsch touches powerfully and brightly upon so much here. The fierceness of his tracking camera is overwhelming at times; there are these privileged moments as well--Cluny getting drunk, for example--that sparkle beyond most any other work in cinema. And the strangeness of some of these close-ups!! Loved every millisecond.
I love this late Lubitsch. He was still at full tilt creatively when he made this film. It is one of his best. Jennifer Jones is uniquely funny and should have been allowed to do more comedies. The supporting cast is beyond praise. By the way, the book, which shares the tone of the film, is very different and equally delightful. "Squirrels to the nuts," however, is all Lubitsch (and/or Hoffenstein?).
One of Lubitsch's best, and most neglected, films.
From the evidence of CLUNY BROWN and BEAT THE DEVIL, Jennifer Jones was an inspired comedienne. However, it seems that Selznick, like Hearst with Marion Davies, preferred to see the love of his life in romantic roles rather than comedies. The irony, of course, is that these women were probably cut-ups in real life.