Gary Cooper, Fredric March, and Miriam Hopkins play a trio of Americans in Paris who enter into a very adult “gentleman’s” agreement, in this continental pre-Code comedy freely adapted by Ben Hecht from a play by Noël Coward, and directed by Ernst Lubitsch.
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This film reaches heights in terms of writing and directing that we've hardly seen in the history of film. The intelligence of all involved is far too great to call 'Design for Living' anything but a masterpiece.
Was this movie like the precurser to all those french 2 guys and a girl movies that occured a few decades later? I can't believe the topic matter in this old gem. I think I prefer Cooper in comedic roles like this or Hawks' "Ball of Fire". March and Hopkins are great too.
Cinematography by Victor Milner. "Desire" list: Gary Cooper, again - but Fredric March and Miriam Hopkins are amazing . "(...) I will leave all and come and make the hymns of you,/None has understood you, but I understand you, /None has done justice to you, you have not done justice to/yourself,/None but has found you imperfect, I only find no/imperfection in you, (...) (Walt Whitman)
This is about knowing exactly when a scene must start and when it must end, how to tell what has happened in an ellipsis, how to project thoughts and feelings into objects, and there are even some great bits of silent comedy. In a few words, Lubitsch and Hetch stick to a way of conveying things indirectly, but not too indirectly, and they make the most of it.
A tale of platonic love and art versus carnal desire and lust, revolving around Gilda, the mother of the arts, the heart of the love triangle. Although the plot seems rather superficial, it is very well written, including witty dialogues and clever symbolism. I am usually no fan of theatrical exaggerations, but here it's done so consistent and well that I was able to embrace it. A very charming and mature film.