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‘The Lubitsch Touch’

Ernst Lubitsch, writes Geoffrey O’Brien in the NYR Daily, “created not only a style but a place, his imaginary homeland: that paradise of sophistication disguised as Paris, Vienna, Budapest, the operetta kingdom of Marshovia, or even eventually as the Gay Nineties American Neverland of Heaven Can Wait (1943). We are always looking back toward some long-lost capital city of joy. In Lubitsch’s films memory is constantly being invoked—his characters are forever dwelling on cherished first encounters, unforgettable honeymoon excursions, the minutiae of tiny freshly recalled episodes that encapsulate the deepest of feelings—but it is always an open question whether these memories are not flights of invention, decorating and orchestrating an exquisite counterlife. Those flourishes—magic feats performed in full view of the audience—become something like a companionable accompaniment, enriching the action with deeper layers of joking and commentary.”

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Category: Film
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