Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cluny Brown

Piika, joka ei tiennyt paikkaansa / Husan, som inte visste sin plats. US © 1946 20th Century Fox. P+D: Ernst Lubitsch. SC: Samuel Hoffenstein, Elizabeth Reinhardt – based on the novel by Margery Sharp (1944). DP: Joseph La Shelle. AD: Lyle Wheeler, J. Russell Spencer. COST: Bonnie Cashin. M: Cyril Mockridge. ED: Dorothy Spencer. S: Arthur L. Kirbach, Roger Herman. CAST: Charles Boyer (Adam Belinski), Jennifer Jones (Cluny Brown), Peter Lawford (Andrew Carmel), Helen Walker (Betty Cream), Reginald Gardiner (Hilary Ames), Reginald Owen (Sir Henry Carmel), Sir C. Aubrey Smith (Col. Duff Graham), Richard Haydn (Wilson), Margaret Bannerman (Lady Alice Carmel), Sara Allgood (Mrs. Maile), Ernest Cossart (Syrette), Una O'Connor (Mrs. Wilson). 95 min, 100 min. A Filmoteca Española print of the long version with Spanish subtitles viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 28 Oct 2008. - Uneven print, sometimes good definition, sometimes low contrast and soft. - The film starts disappointingly with too much talk, the main actors not yet in character. But there is the spirit since Jennifer Jones meets C. Aubrey Smith at the railway station. - This is a comedy of misunderstandings: Cluny Brown is a young woman "who does not know her place". Adam Belinski is an exiled Czech intellectual, an ex-professor, now a bum mistaken for a persecuted resistance fighter. As a foreigner I cannot judge how successful the satire of English class society is in its authentic detail and how convincing Jennnifer Jones is as an English working-class woman. But I like the spirit of the story, about the real worth of the human beings, and how ridiculous external labels can be. - The servants are even more severe about keeping appearances than the masters. - The proper manners of the town chemist as death-in-life, in contrast to Belinski's bum existence. Belinski does not lie, but he does not correct misunderstandings, either. - Shakespeare saves Cluny Brown and Adam Belinski. - "Squirrels to the nuts". - "You know what plumbing does to me". - Final pantomime beyond the bookstore window. "The Nightingale Strikes Again". The end of the last all-Lubitsch film. There were also films started by him and finished by Preminger. I love Preminger, but he didn't have the Lubitsch touch.

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