Cast & Crew
In Paris in the spring, Dr. André Bertier and Colette, his wife of three years, live in a state of connubial bliss until Colette's flirtatious school chum, Mitzi Olivier, visits, and André is tempted to have an affair. Mitzi schemes to get André alone by feigning illness, and Colette urges him to visit Mitzi, believing André is reluctant because he doesn't like Colette's friend. At the Oliviers' apartment, Mitzi tries to seduce André, and Mitzi's husband, the professor, who has hired Detective Henri Pornier to find evidence of Mitzi's affairs, walks in on the doctor and his patient on the couch. When the Bertiers hold a dinner party, André switches place cards with Mlle. Marcel in order to avoid sitting next to Mitzi. Colette, believing André is having an affair with the mademoiselle, tells Mitzi, who spends the evening with André under the guise of saving Colette's marriage. When André meets Mitzi on the veranda, she unties his tie, and he is caught by Colette when the mademoiselle later reties it for him. After the party, Colette refuses to believe André's story about the mademoiselle, and he leaves to meet Mitzi in a waiting cab. Adolph, André's best friend, who has been pleading for Colette's affections all evening, then appears in her parlor and kisses her before she orders him out. The next morning, Mitzi leaves for her mother's place in Lausanne, and Colette tries to guess who Mitzi's lover is. Next, Olivier confronts André with a minute-by-minute account of André's rendezvous with his wife, including nearly two hours--from 2:53 a.m. to 4:44--during which Mitzi and André were alone. When André receives a summons to appear as a witness at the Oliviers' divorce trial, he confesses his affair to Colette, and she tells him their marriage is over. Adolph then arrives, and although André believes his friend incapable of seducing Colette, she, with the help of André's amused promptings, forces a confession out of Adolph, making the husband and wife's infidelities equal. She then tells André, "An eye for an eye...an Adolph for a Mitzi." After they ask the rhetorical question, "What would you do?" the couple embraces.
M. M. Paggi
Richard A. Whiting
Richard A. Whiting
One Hour With You
There is no definitive explanation for why this film was not originally assigned to Lubitsch as director. After all, it was a remake of his second U.S. film, the 1924 silent The Marriage Circle, starring Florence Vidor, Monte Blue and Adolphe Menjou. And the plot, about a Parisian married couple almost torn apart by the temptation to stray, was pure Lubitsch. At the time Paramount put this new adaptation of Lothar Schmidt's stage play into production, the director was busy with one of his rare dramatic projects, The Man I Killed (1932), which was behind schedule. Some biographers have suggested that with the end of his contract approaching, the studio may have wanted to get as much work out of him as possible. Whatever the reason, George Cukor was assigned to direct under Lubitsch's supervision.
When Lubitsch approached Maurice Chevalier about playing the leading role, he asked the producer to cast Kay Francis and Carole Lombard as his wife and mistress, possibly because, as was rumored at the time, he had his eye on both romantically. Not wanting to risk a romantic triangle on the set, Lubitsch convinced him that Jeanette MacDonald, Chevalier's co-star in The Love Parade (1929), and stage comedienne Genevieve Tobin would be more suitable co-stars.
Lubitsch got more time to focus on One Hour with You when he finished shooting The Man I Killed. The first thing he did was to take a close look at frequent collaborator Samson Raphaelson's script...and then discarded it completely. He even got Paramount to delay the start of production until they could finish a complete re-write. During that time, he carefully shaped a typical Lubitsch production, full of sophisticated wit, theatrical touches (including some scenes with rhyming dialogue and moments at which Chevalier talks to the audience) and a subtle approach to sexuality that had inspired the term "The Lubitsch Touch."
Once shooting started, Lubitsch realized there was something wrong. Although participants in the filming have offered conflicting accounts, Raphaelson claims that two days into the shoot, Lubitsch asked him if they could look at the rushes together. Both agreed that Cukor was giving the film entirely the wrong tone, with some of the scenes overplayed and the insertion of extraneous business that killed the pace. Chevalier was already complaining that Cukor was directing him too broadly. So Lubitsch started taking over, first suggesting a few camera set-ups, then directing rehearsals and finally simply directing the film himself as Cukor sat on the sidelines and approved everything the master did. Although critics have attempted to identify Cukor's influence on the film, studio records indicate that his only contributions that survive are some few silent reaction shots and footage of walking feet.
Nonetheless, One Hour with You previewed with Cukor still credited as director, and Lubitsch merely listed as "Supervisor" (the term used before "Producer" came into prominence). After reading preliminary reviews that credited Cukor with getting more out of Chevalier than Lubitsch ever had, Lubitsch demanded that the credits be changed and studio head Budd Schulberg asked Cukor to accept lesser billing. When the director refused, Schulberg had his name removed from all prints. Then Cukor filed a court injunction preventing Paramount from opening the film until he was given proper credit. The matter was settled out of court, with Lubitsch billed as director and Cukor as dialogue director. In return, Schulberg let Cukor out of his contract early so he could join friend David O. Selznick at RKO to direct What Price Hollywood? (1932), which some have suggested was the point of the injunction in the first place. In later years, Cukor would speak both carefully and bitterly of the experience, telling interviewer Gavin Lambert, "With the best intentions in the world, I couldn't do a Lubitsch picture. Lubitsch was what they really wanted and what they should have had [from the beginning]."
With new credits, One Hour with You met with critical praise, with most crediting its success to the man Mildred Martin of the Philadelphia Inquirer called "Hollywood's most original and knowing director of sophisticated comedy." The film's Oscar® nomination - alongside another film Lubitsch made with Chevalier, The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - attested to his continuing prestige in Hollywood. But the box office take, though still good, was less than expected. The film was a victim of changing times as audience tastes began to veer from sophisticated fare to more working-class musicals such as 42nd Street, which debuted later the same year. That hardly diminished Lubitsch's standing in Hollywood. With the end of his contract, the director had several lucrative offers, though he eventually re-signed with Paramount, which he would run briefly a few years later as their production manager.
Producer: Ernst Lubitsch
Director: Lubitsch, George Cukor
Screenplay: Samson Raphaelson
Based on the play Only a Dream by Lothar Schmidt
Cinematography: Victor Milner
Art Direction: Hans Dreier
Music: Oscar Strauss, Richard Whiting
Principal Cast: Maurice Chevalier (Dr. Andre Bertier), Jeanette MacDonald (Colette Bertier), Genevieve Tobin (Mitzi Olivier), Charles Ruggles (Adolph), Roland Young (Professor Olivier), George Barbier (Police Commissioner), Josephine Dunn (Mlle. Martel), Charles Coleman (Marcel, Adolph's Butler), Mae Questel (Office Worker).
by Frank Miller
Laughter in Paradise by Scott Eyman
One Hour With You
Lubitsch Musicals Eclipse Series 8 - LUBITSCH MUSICALS: Eclipse Series 8 - Now on DVD!
1929's The Love Parade establishes the Lubitsch musical comedy format; the only thing slowing it down are a few too many unmemorable songs. Lubitsch paired Maurice Chevalier (in his second talkie) with Jeanette MacDonald, a fresh face and voice from Philadelphia. In the mythical country of Sylvania, Queen Louise (MacDonald) marries young Count Renard (Chevalier), a diplomat recalled from Paris for having too many notorious affairs. Renard is likewise smitten, but he rebels at being relegated to the powerless position of Queen's Consort. He withholds his presence at formal ceremonies until Louise breaks down and acknowledges his masculine rights.
Lubitch begins in Paris with an almost wordless sequence involving a jealous husband and a mock suicide attempt. Renard retains an amused 'French' attitude through it all, trusting that everything will work out. Back in Sylvania, Louise is badgered by her ministers to take a husband; she worries about spinsterhood until smoothie Renard arrives for punishment and stays for a seduction. As an added treat, the royal romance is mirrored by servants Lupino Lane (a clever music hall-type performer) and Lillian Roth, whose smiling eyes have hanky-panky written all over them. Lubitsch invests this trifle with delicate comic timing, emphasizing MacDonald's mischievous antics and Chevalier's relaxed self-assurance. MacDonald is frequently on display wearing elaborate nightgowns and filmy undergarments, an aspect of the film that surely attracted both male and female viewers. Hays Code? What Hays Code? Although not as saucy as the later films, The Love Parade delivers a new kind of screen entertainment.
1930's Monte Carlo must do without Chevalier, replacing him with Jack Buchanan, a refined Englishman with plenty of talent but little in the way of sex appeal. Buchanan is now known almost exclusively through his performance in Vincente Minnelli's The Band Wagon, over twenty years later. Lubitsch compensates by giving Jeanette MacDonald more sexy business (& lingerie) and much better music. MacDonald debuts the hit song Beyond the Blue Horizon in a speeding train. We're told that 1930 audiences marveled at the excitement generated when angles of the moving locomotive were edited in time with the melody.
The plot has Countess Helene Mara (MacDonald) bolting from the altar and fleeing to Monte Carlo, where she loses all her money at roulette yet takes a suite in an expensive hotel. Unable arrange a proper introduction, Count Rudolph Falliere (Buchanan) poses as a hairdresser to be near Helene, and soon replaces most of her servants. By the time the Countess's foppish fiancé shows up, Falliere is also accompanying Helene out on the town. Helene figures she'll have to give up Rudy for financial reasons, until her hairdresser reveals his true identity.
Double-entendres abound as Rudy finds excuses not to cut Helene's hair. Improved songs comment on the story with earthy wit: a chorus chirps the rude lyric, "He's a nas, he's a nas, he's a nasty-tempered brute!" Buchanan isn't as charismatic as Chevalier but he plays Lubitsch's visual gags to the hilt. Rudolph follows Helene to the casino's doors, claiming that if she rubs his hair, she'll have good luck. Helene ignores him and slams the door in his face. But when he turns back to signal failure, the door opens just long enough for Helene's hand to pop out and give Rudy's head a pat!
The visual, verbal and sexual invention continues in 1931's The Smiling Lieutenant, a fast-moving farce that constructs a romantic triangle by bracketing Chevalier with two new sweethearts. Viennese Lieutenant Niki Von Preyn (Chevalier) falls madly in love with Franzi (irresistible Claudette Colbert), a violinist in a popular beer garden band. Their romance is blissful until Niki inadvertently winks and smiles at Franzi just as a carriage carrying foreign royalty passes between them. Naíve Princess Anna of Flausenthurm (Miriam Hopkins) concludes that Niki has slighted her, and her furious father demands satisfaction. Anna instead makes Niki her companion during their Viennese visit. The two countries eventually decide that Niki must marry Anna, and Franzi is crestfallen when Niki departs for his new home. In Flausenthurm castle, the new husband refuses to perform his matrimonial duty. 'Stepping out' on the town, he discovers that Franzi and her band have followed him to this new country. When Anna finds out, the two women come to a surprisingly original solution to the problem.
The Smiling Lieutenant builds to a bittersweet ending, which it undercuts with more frivolity. We can imagine young screenwriter Billy Wilder studying this film in hopes of understanding 'the Lubitsch touch.' Colbert and Chevalier are inflamed with passionate abandon; after the Code restrictions were enforced most of the fun of sex was leeched out of Hollywood filmmaking. Hopkins is genuinely amusing as the backward belle from Flausenthurm (Geshundheit!). We can tell she's in serious need of enlightenment by her unfamiliarity with sexy underwear!
The Smiling Lieutenant was Lubitsch's first collaboration with writer Samuel Raphaelson, with whom he later made many of his most famous comedies. Anna's stuffy papa quickly consents to her marriage with a foreign Lieutenant after her simple threat: If the King doesn't say Yes, she'll marry an American!
Lubitsch finalizes his naughty musical comedy formula in 1932's One Hour With You, a movie that begins with Dr. Andre Bertier and his wife Colette (Chevalier and MacDonald) happily married and in love. If it plays out like a silent sex farce, it's because it's a remake of Lubitsch's own 1924 The Marriage Circle. Colette's wicked best friend Mitzi (Genevieve Tobin) plots to seduce Andre while leading Colette to believe that another woman is responsible. Things come to a head at a dinner party. Mitzi entices Andre to join her in the garden, and then finally to come home with her, at 2:30 in the morning. The big surprise is that the film tosses off Andre's flagrant infidelity as no big deal when compared to his commitment to Colette. Colette accepts and forgives Andre, while Andre doesn't believe Colette's confession of a midnight kiss with his best friend, the ardent fool Adolph (Charles Ruggles).
With nothing on its mind but lovemaking, the elegant, impeccably turned out One Hour With You completes these four musical fairytales on a high note. The film is partly credited to George Cukor; Eclipse's liner notes tell us that Lubitsch was originally set to only supervise, but stepped in and redid all of Cukor's work when he felt that the dailies weren't good enough. Most sources still credit Cukor as a co-director.
Eclipse's Lubitsch Musicals collection sports wonderful restorations of these early talkies; I believe I saw only one minor incidence of frame damage. Some of the transfers are on the grainy side but the B&W images are clean and the audio cleaner, even on the 1929 The Love Parade. For all the touting of MGM films as Hollywood's glossiest, Paramount's seem more artistic even when they make do with fewer resources.
The Eclipse series has no extras save for brief liner notes on each title, but these are expertly written and highly informative. We learn that both Lubitsch and Chevalier weathered various personal problems while these musicals were in production. It's difficult to believe that the makers of these light-hearted comedies ever had a sad day.
For more information about Lubitsch Musicals, visit Eclipse. To order Lubitsch Musicals, go to TCM Shopping.
by Glenn Erickson
Lubitsch Musicals Eclipse Series 8 - LUBITSCH MUSICALS: Eclipse Series 8 - Now on DVD!
In preparation for re-release in the early 1950s, Paramount excised several minutes from different scenes that were considered in questionable taste for the time. These excisions, as well as the French version of the film, are lost.
An English-language version of Lothar Schmidt's play opened in New York on October 29, 1913. This film was a musical remake of Ernst Lubitsch's second American film, The Marriage Circle (also based on Lothar Schmidt's play Only a Dream), which Lubitsch directed for Warner Bros. in 1924, starring Florence Vidor and Monte Blue. The Marriage Circle contained the same "switch of the wrists" bit used in this film when "André," caught by the professor holding "Mitzi's" wrist, pretends to be taking her pulse. The most important plot difference between The Marriage Circle and this film was that, unlike the original film, in which the husband and wife are merely tempted to have an affair, "André" apparently does sleep with Mitzi; his infidelity unbalances Colette's attempts to establish a quid pro quo at the end of the film, when she asks André to please forgive her for what she didn't do.
Lubitsch supervised the pre-production of this film, but because his anti-war drama, The Man I Killed, ran over schedule, Paramount assigned George Cukor to direct this film, with Lubitsch supervising. Hollywood Reporter reported on November 13, 1931, the first day of production (at Paramount's Hollywood studios), that Lubitsch had finally okayed Samson Raphaelson's script after making several important changes. Raphaelson, a Broadway dramatist, was the sole writer or a collaborator on nine Lubitsch films. During filming, a dispute occurred between Cukor and Chevalier over Cukor's direction. In an interview quoted in a modern source, Raphaelson recounts the incidents that brought about Cukor's dismissal: Lubitsch asked Raphaelson to view the early rushes with him, and they agreed that Cukor's direction did not match Raphaelson and Lubitsch's conception of comedy. Although Cukor remained on the set, Lubitsch took over direction after two weeks. Variety reported on December 15, 1931, "Ernst Lubitsch is supervising Chevalier's One Hour With You with his meg in hand. George Cukor, titular director, does considerable sitting out while Lubitsch uses his influence with the French star." When Lubitsch demanded sole directing credit, Cukor sued for the same thing, but Hollywood Reporter announced on February 27, 1932 that Paramount claimed Cukor had nothing to do with the film after the first several days of shooting. Variety reported on March 8, 1932 that Cukor had asked for an injunction against the film's exhibition unless his credit as director was restored. Reportedly, the contention was that Cukor's credit was removed from the screen credits after the preview when Lubitsch informed Paramount that either his or Cukor's name would have to come down. According to a modern source, a court ruling restored Cukor to full co-directorship, but by that time, the film had been released. In interviews with Gavin Lambert conducted at the AFI Center for Advanced Studies between August 1970 and April 1971, Cukor said that the incident was settled out of court. As reported in Variety on April 5, 1932, Cukor eventually compromised with an assistant director credit and the chance to break his contract at Paramount to direct a film starring Constance Bennett at RKO (that film was What Price Hollywood.) An ad in Variety on March 22, 1932, gave sole directing credit to Lubitsch, but on 5 Apr, an ad stated that Lubitsch was "assisted by George Cukor." In the AFI interviews, Cukor said that B. P. Schulberg, head of Paramount, saw a lot of rushes and didn't like them. It was "goddamned agony for me," Cukor said. "I sat on the set and minded my P's and Q's. When it was over, B. P. Schulberg...called me in and said, "I'm going to ask you to do me a little favor....I'd like to take your name off this thing."
Throughout the film, Chevalier's character speaks in asides to the audience, in which he asks their advice and apprises them of his romantic quandaries. Contemporary news items state that Raphaelson wrote a new ending, which Lubitsch shot at Paramount's Astoria studios on February 11, 1932 because Chevalier was appearing in concert in New York. In the original "final" script dated December 24, 1931 (contained in the Paramount collection in the AMPAS Library) after the "eye for an eye" line, "Colette" goes upstairs, and "André" (called "Henri" in the unrevised script) kisses "Adolph" on both cheeks, and he leaves. "André" goes happily upstairs, but then comes out of "Colette's" bedchamber and addresses the audience. The script reads: "Ladies and gentlemen. There must be no misunderstanding between us....I have said there was nothing wrong between Mitzi and me....Now I'm sure the ladies believe me. But the gentlemen May say, 'Did you really drink brandy?'...I will tell you exactly what happened. We arrived at Mitzi's house at 2:53. Mitzi handed me the key, and, naturally, I opened the door. We went up the stairs. Mitzi handed me another key, and I opened the door to her apartment. We went into her apartment and we sat down in the living room....FADE OUT"
While not considered a musical per se, this film contains numerous songs and metered dialogue, and New York Times calls it "almost an operetta." A Motion Picture Herald exploitation review warns that this film May be "a bit risque" for small town audiences, and that neighborhood theatres should "play away from Sundays." A news item in Variety states that Paramount agreed to a promotional deal with American Tobacco for the picture. Chevalier, MacDonald, Tobin, Ruggles, and Young reportedly restaged their film dialogue for the "Lucky Strikes" NBC broadcast without monetary compensation; Lubitsch also made a guest appearance. An unidentified contemporary news item states that, during an interview on the Paramount set, MacDonald and Chevalier compared salaries, and Chevalier was surprised to learn that his co-star earned £2,000 per week for eighteen weeks, compared to his £1,000. A French-language version of this film, Une heure près de toi was shot simultaneously with the American version. The film received an Academy Award nomination in the Outstanding Production category. According to a modern source, Carole Lombard and Kay Francis were originally set to co-star in the American version. Modern sources list the following additional cast members: Florine McKinney (Girl), Donald Novis (Singer), Eric Wilton (Butler) and Bill Elliott (Dancer). Modern sources also list the following credits: Editing William Shea, Art Director Hans Dreier, and Set Decoration A. E. Freudeman.
Released in United States 1932
Released in United States 1994
Released in United States March 28, 1987
Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival March 28, 1987.
Originally George Cukor was director, but after the first few weeks of filming, producer Lubitsch started taking over and Cukor walked off the set. Lubitsch re-shot the footage Cukor had directed and got full credit for the picture. Remake of Lubitsch's silent film "The Marriage Circle" (1924).
Released in United States 1932
Released in United States 1994 (Shown at AFI/ Los Angeles International Film Festival (All Night Movie Marathon: "Comedies of Elegance") June 23 - July 7, 1994.)
Released in United States March 28, 1987 (Shown at San Francisco International Film Festival March 28, 1987.)