With his last completed film, the sly, suggestive comedy of manners Cluny Brown, Ernst Lubitsch brought to the screen one of the most irrepressible, irresistible Hollywood heroines of the forties. The niece of a plumber in a Britain on the brink of World War II, the film’s title character (Jennifer Jones) exhibits an enthusiasm (not to mention talent) for her uncle’s trade that refuses to be contained, even as he sends her off to work as a parlormaid, in order to initiate her into a ladylike subservience more befitting of her station. Among the supplements on our brand-new edition of Cluny Brown is a conversation between Molly Haskell and Farran Smith Nehme in which the two critics gamely plumb the significance of the free-spirited protagonist. In the above clip from the piece, Haskell notes how rare such a “woman with a métier” was in the cinema of the time, while Nehme situates Cluny, who wins the affections of Charles Boyer’s Czech refugee, in Lubitsch’s long line of highly idiosyncratic—yet eminently lovable—career women, also including The Shop Around the Corner’s Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) and To Be or Not to Be’s Maria Tura (Carole Lombard).
Digging Through Movie History at Chaplin’s Studios
Film scholar Craig Barron gives us a tour of the studios on whose back lot Charlie Chaplin built the set for his final film of the silent era, The Circus.
Ritwik Ghatak’s Pursuit of Truth Beyond Realism
Acclaimed Indian filmmakers Saeed Akhtar Mirza and Kumar Shahani discuss how the Bengali master mixed expressionism and naturalism in his devastating domestic tragedy The Cloud-Capped Star.
A Howl of Defiance from the Italian Sixties
Marco Bellocchio’s subversive debut feature, Fists in the Pocket, emerged out of a period of social unrest, taking aim at both bourgeois values and Catholic hypocrisy.