Home Classic Movies San Sebastián: Ernst Lubitsch Retrospective Showcases Magical Touch

San Sebastián: Ernst Lubitsch Retrospective Showcases Magical Touch

One of the highlights of this year’s San Sebastian International Film Festival (website) is a mouth-wateringly thorough Ernst Lubitsch Retrospective. (Image: Angel, with Marlene Dietrich, Herbert Marshall, and Melvyn Douglas.)

Besides the obligatory titles, such as the witty 1939 comedy of bright lights and Communism, Ninotchka, and the delightful 1934 version of The Merry Widow, the retrospective is also showcasing a large number of Lubitsch rarities (including a few fragments of mostly lost films), ranging from his earliest work in Germany – among them several Pola Negri vehicles and the gender-bending 1918 comedy Ich möchte kein Mann sein / I Don’t Want to Be a Man, starring the German Mary Pickford, Ossi Oswalda – to some of his little-seen Hollywood films, such as the 1931 psychological drama Broken Lullaby / The Man I Killed, with Phillips Holmes and Nancy Carroll, and the 1930 Jeanette MacDonald-Jack Buchanan musical Monte Carlo.

Mary Pickford herself can be seen in Rosita a 1923 costume comedy that, despite claims to the contrary, was quite popular in its day. (Pickford hated working with Lubitsch, and never forgave him.)

Lubitsch reportedly also ran into problems with Nancy Carroll. In Ernst Lubitsch: Laughter in Paradise, author Scott Eyman says that “part of the problem [with Lubitsch’s 1931 melodrama The Man I Killed / Broken Lullaby] may have been an inability to establish a rapport with Nancy Carroll; Lubitsch told Miriam Hopkins that ‘she doesn’t understand what I want her to do … she doesn’t want direction … I said to her … “If you would just put yourself in my arms” [hands]. And she said, “That I should do that with you, [a] German?”‘”

Note: Eyman doesn’t cite his source for the Ernst Lubitsch / Nancy Carroll quote. Miriam Hopkins died in 1972; Eyman’s Lubitsch bio was written in the early 1990s. He doesn’t mention Hopkins in the acknowledgments section, though he may have gotten the quote from some old Hopkins interview. Anyhow, I don’t know whether or not that particular quote comes from a reliable source.

Having said that, Nancy Carroll was known to be very difficult. That’s one of the reasons her Paramount stardom was so brief.

The retrospective is also screening a trailer of The Patriot, a 1928 silent drama starring Emil Jannings, Florence Vidor, and Lewis Stone. (The Patriot was considered completely lost until fairly recently. One reel or so was reportedly found in Portugal.)

The San Sebastian festival runs until Sept. 30.

List of Ernst Lubitsch films (including fragments and trailers) screened at San Sebastian:

• Als ich tot war / Wo ist mein Schatz
Germany • 1916• Angel
USA • 1937

• Anna Boleyn starring Emil Jannings, Hedwig Pauli, Hilde Müller, Ludwig Hartau, Henny Porten
Germany • 1920

• Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife starring Claudette Colbert, Gary Cooper, David Niven
USA • 1938

• Broken Lullaby / The Man I Killed starring Nancy Carroll, Phillips Holmes
USA • 1932

• Carmen starring Pola Negri
Germany • 1918

• Cluny Brown starring Jennifer Jones, Charles Boyer.
USA • 1946

• Das Weib des Pharao starring Emil Jannings
Germany • 1922

• Das fidele Gefängnis / Ein fideles Gefängnis
Germany • 1917

• Der Blusenkönig
Germany • 1917

• Design for Living starring Gary Cooper, Miriam Hopkins, Fredric March.
USA • 1933

• Desire
Frank Borzage, (Ernst Lubitsch producer) • USA • 1936

• Die Augen der Mumie Mâ
Germany • 1918

• Die Austernprinzessin
Germany • 1919

• Die Bergkatze starring Pola Negri
Germany • 1921

• Die Flamme starring Pola Negri, Hilde Wörner, Alfred Abel, Hermann Thimig, Frida Richard
USA • 1923

• Die Puppe starring Ossi Oswalda, Hermann Thimig, Victor Janson
Germany • 1919

• Ernst Lubitsch in Berlin
Robert Fischer • Germany • 2006

• Eternal Love starring John Barrymore, Camilla Horn, Victor Varconi
USA • 1929

Forbidden Paradise starring Pola Negri, Rod La Rocque, Pauline Starke
USA • 1924

Heaven Can Wait starring Don Ameche, Gene Tierney, Signe Hasso, Laird Cregar
USA • 1943

Ich möchte kein Mann sein starring Ossi Oswalda
Germany • 1918

• If I Had a Million
Ernst Lubitsch (The Clerk), Norman Taurog, Stephen Roberts, Norman McLeod, James Cruze, William A. Seiter, H. Bruce Humberstone • USA • 1932

• Kohlhiesels Töchter
Germany • 1920

• Lady Windermere’s Fan
USA • 1925

• Madame Dubarry
Germany • 1919

• Meyer aus Berlin
Germany • 1919

• Monte Carlo
USA • 1930

• Ninotchka
USA • 1939

• One Hour with You
Ernst Lubitsch, George Cukor • USA • 1932

• Paramount on Parade
Ernst Lubitsch (Origin of the Apache, A Park in Paris, The Rainbow Revels), Dorothy Arzner, Otto Brower, Edmund Goulding, Victor Heerman, Edwin H. Knopf, Rowland V. Lee, Lothar Mendes, Victor Schertzinger, Edward Sutherland, Frank Tuttle • USA • 1930

• Romeo und Julia im Schnee
Germany • 1920

• Rosita
USA • 1923

• Schuhpalast Pinkus starring Guido Herzfeld, Else Kenter, Ernst Lubitsch, Hanns Kräly, Ossi Oswalda
Germany • 1916

• So This Is Paris starring Patsy Ruth Miller, Monte Blue, André Beranger (aka George Beranger), Lilyan Tashman
USA • 1926

• Sumurun starring Pola Negri, Jenny Hasselquist, Aud Egede Nissen, Margarete Kupfer, Paul Wegener, Ernst Lubitsch
Germany • 1920

• That Uncertain Feeling starring Merle Oberon, Melvyn Douglas, Burgess Meredith
USA • 1941

The Love Parade starring Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Lillian Roth, Lupino Lane
USA • 1929

• The Marriage Circle
USA • 1924

The Merry Widow starring Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Una Merkel
USA • 1934

• The Patriot (trailer)
USA • 1928

• The Shop Around the Corner
USA • 1940

• The Smiling Lieutenant
USA • 1931

The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg
USA • 1927

• Three Women
USA • 1924

• To Be or Not To Be
USA • 1942

• Trouble in Paradise
USA • 1932

• Wenn vier dasselbe tun
Germany • 1917

3 comments

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3 comments

James -

It’s a very thorough and exhaustive retrospective. That’s why I was curious as to whether it was representative of all of Lubitsch’s existing films.

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Andre -

But it’s a pretty thorough retrospective, no?
I believe that only a few of his earliest films are missing from the above line-up.

Reply
James -

What a terrific lineup of films. I hope all who attended enjoyed the retrospective. Anyone reading this site who attended care to comment? I don’t have a Lubitsch filmography in front of me, but is this all of Lubitsch’s existing films that screened during this series?

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