A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (Ernst Lubitsch, 1927)

Norma Shearer, Ramon Novarro, and Jean Hersholt in The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg
Prince Karl Heinrich: Ramon Novarro
Kathi: Norma Shearer
Dr. Jüttner: Jean Hersholt
King Karl VII: Gustav von Seyffertitz
Lutz: Edgar Norton
Kellermann: Bobbie Mack
Young Karl Heinrich: Philippe De Lacy
Old Ruder: Otis Harlan

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Screenplay: Hanns Kräly
Based on a book and play by Wilhelm Meyer-Förster
Cinematography: John J. Mescall
Art direction: Richard Day, Cedric Gibbons
Film editing: Andrew Marton

Though The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg sometimes seems as overextended as its title, given the slightness of its love-or-duty plot, it gets a good deal of zip from Ernst Lubitsch's direction and from the charm of its leads, Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer. The latter, especially, is seen to good advantage in a role that doesn't call on her to over-emote, a trap she sometimes fell into in many of her sound roles. Lubitsch inserts sly gags here and there to leaven the obviousness of the plot. After perhaps one too many scenes of students quaffing beer, there's a card to remind us that they were at the university to learn, too, followed by a shot of a professor droning away at a lectern to a classroom of a single student. Eventually, the film bogs down a bit when Novarro's Karl Heinrich is called away to princely duties and has to forsake Shearer's lovely barmaid. 

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