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Monday, 9 July 2018

On Blu-ray - David Hare sifts through some French editions of films by the great man himself Ernst Lubitsch

Charles Laughton (left) gives his boss the razzie in the Lubitsch episode from If I had a Million (1932).
And Gary Cooper is seen next with everyone's favorite old uncle/auntie, Edward Everett Horton (below) sleeping in HIS bed, and (further below) a screen with the devoon Claudette Colbert on a pontoon in a studio backdrop Paramount Riviera from Lube's Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, which was torn to pieces by the censors, from 1938. (I have to say I suspect Paramount's wonderful production design studio Riviera was probably much nicer than the real thing.) 
To say even the double entendres which these two screens hint at are dead is an understatement. This picture, and Cukor's Zaza, were perhaps the worst hit victims of the post 1934 Code, both in the same year of 1938, coming on top of variously censored and re-edited titles from the pre-34 era which had to be re-submitted to get the stamp of appproval from that old pervert Joe Breen for the new sexless age. 
These titles, as well as Design for Living(1933) a true Lubitsch masterpiece, and One Hour with You, a Lube/Cukor joint effort of mixed success (for me) have now been released on Blu-ray by Elephant in France. 
Design was afforded a decent 2K restoration by Universal some years ago, and has since appeared on a Criterion Blu-ray with a great Joe McBride commentary, so skip this Elephant disc in favor of that quality edition. 
And unless you're a fanatical Lube completist, the transfer of Million is so rough I cannot recommend it for fear of ridicule. Bluebeard is also really a title for completists so it's up to you folks. Image quality is ragged but sharp, but the print is unrestored. Black and white levels are good and consequently there's decent contrast and texture, but Christ it's technically rough. 
So is One Hour with You, (below) also in this pile of Froggie releases. 
Some players might also have trouble defeating the French subs.

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