Like its central character, Ernst Lubitsch’s 1934 adaptation of The Merry Widow is irrepressibly charming. And much like Lubitsch’s film, its central character lets off a repellent stink on occasion. But how often does a prewar sex comedy age unscathed into the 21st century when most of the genre’s output during the 1990s seems irredeemably retrograde a mere two decades later? Part of the game is pitting the Lubitsch’s witty flourishes against the material’s well-worn sexual politics.
June 11, 2017