Comic Spirit

Follow the Fleet (1936)

I had an deep affection for Follow the Fleet for many years, but it’s time for me to admit that it’s not very good. There’s no doubt that it’s an unusual and interesting film in the Astaire-Rogers canon but watching it soberly now, it seems uninspired, spliced together with carpet tacks, hastily made and under-rehearsed.Continue reading “Follow the Fleet (1936)”

The Comic Spirit

The basic premise of this blog is that comedies spin worlds in which the human condition is mediated by a spirit, the Spirit of Comedy. It is intangible, and inexpressible except in the embodied forms of comedy. Above all, it is a mischievous trickster spirit. The Comic Spirit intervenes in the best-laid plans (actually, theyContinue reading “The Comic Spirit”

The Merry Widow (1934)

The Merry Widow is probably my favorite of Lubitsch’s film. Until recently it didn’t get much love from film critics and historians, compared with many other Lubitsch comedies. I suspect that was because it appeared to many folks to be just the final sigh of the Jeanette Macdonald-Maurice Chevalier Ruritanian frou-frou musical farces, and itContinue reading “The Merry Widow (1934)”

Trouble in Paradise (1932)

Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise is one of the films on Classic Hollywood’s Mount Rushmore. It’s a monumental work of comic cinema. It’s the most concentrated example of Lubitsch’s famous style, so distilled that it’s almost abstract. Lubitsch himself considered it his greatest stylistic achievement. But there’s trouble in paradise in more ways than one.Continue reading “Trouble in Paradise (1932)”


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