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“Design For Living” by Ernst Lubitsch

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Design For Living

Ernst Lubitsch
Published: 1933
Genre: comedy

As a person who watches a fair number of Hollywood movies from the 1940s (which tend to be fairly tame or suggestive at most), watching pre-Hays Code movies from the 1920s and ’30s is always a bit shocking. They knew about the birds and the bees back then??  Apparently so—t​he birds and the bees are very much in force in Ernst Lubitsch’s 1933 caper “Design for Living” (based on a 1932 play by Noel Coward), starring Gary Cooper, Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, and the always delightful Edward Everett Horton. 

Gilda (Hopkins) meets two starving artist friends (March as playwright Tom and Cooper as painter George) on a train to Paris. They all immediately hit it off. A little too well. 

What follows are entertaining and thoughtful shenanigans touching on friendship, sex, financial success, and the tension between societal convention and unconventional things that just feel right! The three leads are all really, really, ridiculously good looking and their chemistry is half the fun. The last scene feels both reminiscent of and again, completely different from the ending of your standard 1940s romantic comedy. And I loved it. 

Romp on over and place a hold on it