DESIGN FOR LIVING
1933, Universal, 91 min, USA, Dir: Ernst Lubitsch

Playwright Tom Chambers (Fredric March) and painter George Curtis (Gary Cooper) share an apartment in Paris and both fall for lovely interior designer Gilda Farrell (Miriam Hopkins). Gilda can't make up her mind which man she loves, so she concocts a scheme for the three of them to live together platonically. Of course it's not long before the two men are figuratively clawing at each other’s throats in this pre-Code delight from director Ernst Lubitsch and screenwriter Ben Hecht, based on Noel Coward’s play.


DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
1931, Warner Bros., 97 min, USA, Dir: Rouben Mamoulian

Although it’s not as nuanced as the later Spencer Tracy version, many people prefer this pre-Code shocker. Fredric March won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance, going way over the top with facial tics and bestial mannerisms in his Hyde persona, coming off like an urbane, simian werewolf with the gift of speech. Miriam Hopkins is the unfortunate barmaid Ivy, and Rose Hobart is Muriel, Dr. Jekyll’s devoted fiancée. Director Rouben Mamoulian and cinematographer Karl Struss make revolutionary use of the camera, doing things way ahead of their time in movement, point of view and editing, endowing many sequences with a fluid feel in what is essentially a set-bound piece. The characters of Muriel (Beatrix in the Tracy version) and her father did not appear in Stevenson’s original story, but were invented later by playwright T.R. Sullivan in an 1887 stage adaptation.


TROUBLE IN PARADISE
1932, Paramount, 83 min, Dir: Ernst Lubitsch

In this classic by director Ernst Lubitsch, posh European thief Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall) meets his match and the love of his life in Lily (Miriam Hopkins), a pickpocket who disguises herself as a countess. The mischievous duo find work with the lovely Mariet Colet (Kay Francis), owner of the Colet perfumery, and Gaston assumes the position of her secretary, Monsieur Leval. When gossip begins to spread that Mariet is being stolen away from previous suitors by a charming “M. Leval,” Gaston must choose between the two beautiful women in his life.


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