As nervy as it is hilarious, this screwball masterpiece from Ernst Lubitsch stars Jack Benny and, in her final screen appearance, Carole Lombard as husband-and-wife thespians in Nazi-occupied Warsaw who become caught up in a dangerous spy plot.
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35mm, rewatched. Skakespeare is constantly quoted and referred in this film, which is very pertinent, since the bard who wrote about the world as a stage should be the most logical substance of a film where the stage is the world, inversion with great importance and not exactly synonymous: politics, sex and love are masks, that is, the human is a mask, but unlike later on with Bergman, an unconfessable one.
Classic Lubitsch. Great script and performances anchor this screwball comedy about false identity, infidelity and satirical takedown of the then current Nazi regime. Benny was never better with a fine comic supporting cast as well as a charming turn from Carole Lombard. Shot just before America's entry into the war the film couldn't have been more topical or needed at the time.
Lubitsch daringly transfers the normally frivolous and parochial theatre/backstage movie sub-genre into a context infused with powerful, life-and-death relevance. Everything in the film is supposedly about preparation for performance, but the preparation becomes the performance itself, and thus the crux of the entertainment. A brilliant balance between comedy and drama.
Pure artistry. No one could do such a brilliant movie with this amount of depth and social criticism like Lubitsch. He moves the camera through the characters with a flamboyant posture that overcomes the simply moments of comedy. Lubitsch grabs the identity game perfectly but more important he creates a parody only with the blind and unquestioning acceptance that people do when they fear each other.
Another strong contender for the greatest comedy of the sound era. I go back and forth on whether this or Trouble in Paradise is Lubitsch's greatest film. Either way, Jack Benny is absolutely brilliant here and hilarious throughout.