Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Only Strangers Sleep in My Queen-Sized Bed

The Love Parade (1929)
directed by Ernst Lubitsch
rating: 3 out of 5 cravats
on DVD from the vaults

The first act: "Why am I always awakened from my dreams?"

In the kingdom of Sylvania, ministers of war and housemaids draped in pearls all conspire to keep her majesty's courtyard silent for the sweetly sleeping Queen. The attendants fail anew each day - a cuckoo clock or revue of grenadiers betrays them - and promptly move on to the next order of business: asking when (and who) their fair Louise will marry. Sylvania needs a loan, but foreign lenders demand a royal union to satisfy their investment. Enter womanizing military attaché Maurice Chevalier, the toast of Paris's wandering wives, sent home by the state's ambassador for reprimands befitting his boudoir crimes.

Light as a feather, true to form. But the turning point occurs when Chevalier looks his philandering canine in the dog's wet eyes and rues, "You're the only one in the palace who looks up to me." Whereupon the Count-cum-Prince embarks on his campaign of matrimonial humiliation, embarrassing and demeaning his lovely wife until she cedes power and authority (abroad and in bed) unequivocally to her husband. Tonally, it couldn't be more different from the "Dream Lover" chorus of a half-hour earlier; maybe Lubitsch just needed to get "open-palm slap in the face" out of the way en route to that famous touch.