Design For Living ( 1933 )

FERNANDO’s CORNER:  Posted on December 23rd, 2015

DESIGN FOR LIVING

I should never ever doubted buying the Criterion Release of DESIGN FOR LIVING
( 1933 ), perhaps my favorite Ernst Lubitsch Pre-Code. This has been an underrated gem for years, due to the unfair comparison with Noël Coward’s source play; unfair, because Lubitsch only used the premise of the play and nothing else, creating a completely unique oeuvre and mise-en-scene, with his favorite non-singing actress, Miriam Hopkins, a young

DESIGN ( VI )

and natural Fredric March and an even younger and vibrant Gary Cooper, in one of the most shameless, zany and likable mènage-a-trois ever filmed.

DESIGN ( VII )  DESIGN ( II )
DESIGN FOR LIVING ( II )The print used by Criterion for the release is excellent and the extras are equally so, especially the documentary on Lubitsch and Ben Hecht’s “adaptation” of Coward’s play and the analysis of both: Trouble in Paradise and “Design for Living”; plus the Lubitsch segment with Charles Laughton
( The Clerk ) of the all-star film If I Had a Million
( 1932 ) and the 1964 teleplay of the original Design for Living with the triangular: Jill Bennett, Daniel Massey and John Wood ( with Richard Pearson ), which is fine, but demonstrates that Lubitsch created a masterpiece out of Coward’s elements. A must for Pre-Code and Lubitsch fans.

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