“Delicacy is the banana peel underneath the feet of truth.”
An advertising employee (Miriam Hopkins) becomes enamored with two friends — an aspiring painter (Gary Cooper) and playwright (Fredric March) — and moves in with them to become their platonic muse. When March goes to London to oversee his successful new play, Cooper and Hopkins begin an affair, bringing their friendship with March to an end; but when March comes to visit and Hopkins can’t resist intimacy with him, either, she eventually decides to save the men’s friendship by marrying her boring boss (Edward Everett Horton).
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “much acclaimed comedy” by Ernst Lubitsch — liberally adapted by Ben Hecht from Noel Coward’s play — is “still risque”, given that we’re “not used to seeing a sexually available free spirit like Hopkins’s Gilda (who in some ways anticipated Jeanne Moreau’s Catherine in Jules and Jim).” However, he accurately asserts that other than Hopkins’ “delicious, vibrant, witty performance”, the “film lacks energy” and simply plods along — which is especially surprising given the inherently provocative nature of the storyline and some clever turns-of-phrase:
“It’s true we had a gentleman’s agreement, but unfortunately, I am no gentleman.”
“I’m sick of being a trademark married to a slogan.”
This one’s worth a one-time look for its risque themes, but ultimately not an enduring classic.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Miriam Hopkins as Gilda
- Evidence of “Lubitsch’s touch”
- An enjoyably risque pre-Code sensibility
No, though it’s recommended for its historical relevance.