Like Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, Lubitsch’s film was widely criticized upon release for trying to find laughs in Hitler’s assault on civilization and, in this case, the desperate and tragic situation in Poland. But on its 75th anniversary, it remains a black-humored classic and one of the most profound comedies ever made. Jack Benny and Carole Lombard star in this story about a Polish theater company mixed up in espionage in Gestapo-ruled Warsaw. A send-up of Nazi mystique and manners, it also endures as a prime example of the famed “Lubitsch touch”—witty, stylish, and broadly satiric.
Appears in: 25th Portland Jewish Film Festival
Other Films by Ernst Lubitsch
Aging playboy Henry Van Cleve (Don Ameche) dies and dutifully heads directly to hell, where the lobby looks very similar to massive, marbled bank branch. The devil (Laird Cregar) greets Van Cleve, and agrees to hear his story before admitting him below. Thus the film proceeds backwards through the touchstones of Van Cleve’s life: his …