THE MARRIAGE CIRCLE
(director: Ernst Lubitsch; screenwriters: Paul Bern/from the play Only A Dream by Lothar Goldschmidt; cinematographer: Charles Van Enger; music: Keith Taylor; cast: Adolph Menjou (Prof. Josef Stock), Florence Vidor (Charlotte Braun), Monte Blue (Dr. Franz Braun), Marie Prevost (Mizzi Stock), Creighton Hale (Dr. Gustav Mueller), Harry Myers (Detective), Dale Fuller (Neurotic Patient), Esther Ralston (Miss Hofer); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ernst Lubitsch; Image Entertainment; 1924-silent)
“Hit the spot back in the day and has value today of capturing a vanishing era.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The second American film of the German-born Ernst Lubitsch (“Monte Carlo”/”Design for Living”/”The Shop Around the Corner”), and his first silent American comedy. It’s adapted by Paul Bern from the play Only A Dream by Lothar Goldschmidt. The classic domestic comedy of manners, which introduced a new style of comedy to American viewers, was inspired by Chaplin’s A Woman of Paris (1923). In 1932 it was remade as the musical One Hour With You, with Lubitsch directing and assisted by George Cukor. The sophisticated lightweight farce of misunderstandings, infidelities, flirtations, jealousy, and of suitors bringing roses to the ladies, hit the spot back in the day and has value today of capturing a vanishing era.
Set in Vienna among a few bourgeois academic couples. Professor Stock (Adolph Menjou) and his bickering wife Mizzi (Marie Prevost) are locked into a loveless marriage. Mizzi’s best friend Charlotte (Florence Vidor) is newly married to medical man, Dr. Franz Braun (Monte Blue), and is experiencing marital bliss. Mizzi unsuccessfully flirts with Franz, after feigning an illness, while Franz’s lecherous colleague Dr. Mueller (Creighton Hale) is smitten with Charlotte and tries to seduce her when she becomes unsure of hubby.
Charlotte mistakenly thinks her Franz is interested in Miss Hofer (Esther Ralston) and asks for Mizzi’s help to keep an eye on her. The cold Professor Stock hires a private detective (Harry Myers) to spy on his wife, as he’s counting on obtaining information of an infidelity to get a divorce. But the detective bumbles matters by misunderstanding what he’s seeing, as the innocent Franz and Charlotte are suspected of infidelities and the ones of questionable motives are not suspect.
It’s a good introduction to the director’s celebrated style, which came to be known as “the Lubitsch touch”–a visual light-hearted sense of lyricism and a pleasant wit.
REVIEWED ON 1/8/2013 GRADE: B