Ernst Lubitsch

Cluny Brown

Cluny Brown

The final film completed by Ernst Lubitsch, this zany, zippy comedy of manners, set in England on the cusp of World War II, is one of the worldly-wise director’s most effervescent creations. Jennifer Jones shines in a rare comedic turn as Cluny Brown, an irrepressible heroine with a zeal for plumbing. Sent to work as a parlormaid at a stuffy country manor, she proceeds to turn the household upside down—with plenty of help from Adam Belinski (Charles Boyer), an eccentric Continental exile who has fled the Nazis but is still worried about where his next meal is coming from. Sending up British class hierarchy with Lubitsch’s famously light touch, Cluny Brown is a topsy-turvy farce that says nuts to the squirrels and squirrels to the nuts.

Film Info

  • Ernst Lubitsch
  • United States
  • 1946
  • 100 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.37:1
  • English
  • Spine #997

Special Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New conversation between film critics Molly Haskell and Farran Smith Nehme on unconventional female characters in Ernst Lubitsch’s films
  • New video essay by film scholar Kristin Thompson
  • The Lubitsch Touch, an interview with film scholar Bernard Eisenschitz from 2004
  • Screen Directors Playhouse radio adaptation of the film from 1950, featuring Dorothy McGuire and Charles Boyer
  • PLUS: An essay by novelist and essayist Siri Hustvedt

New cover by Caitlin Kuhwald

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New conversation between film critics Molly Haskell and Farran Smith Nehme on unconventional female characters in Ernst Lubitsch’s films
  • New video essay by film scholar Kristin Thompson
  • The Lubitsch Touch, an interview with film scholar Bernard Eisenschitz from 2004
  • Screen Directors Playhouse radio adaptation of the film from 1950, featuring Dorothy McGuire and Charles Boyer
  • PLUS: An essay by novelist and essayist Siri Hustvedt

New cover by Caitlin Kuhwald

Cluny Brown
Cast
Jennifer Jones
Cluny Brown
Charles Boyer
Adam Belinski
Peter Lawford
Andrew Carmel
Helen Walker
Elizabeth “Betty” Cream
Reginald Gardiner
Hilary Ames
Reginald Owen
Sir Henry Carmel
Margaret Bannerman
Lady Alice Carmel
C. Aubrey Smith
Colonel Charles Duff Graham
Richard Haydn
Mr. Wilson
Credits
Director
Ernst Lubitsch
Produced by
Ernst Lubitsch
Screenplay by
Samuel Hoffenstein
Screenplay by
Elizabeth Reinhardt
Based on the novel by
Margery Sharp
Director of photography
Joseph LaShelle
Art director
Lyle Wheeler
Art director
J. Russell Spencer
Editor
Dorothy Spencer

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Ernst Lubitsch

Producer, Director

Ernst Lubitsch
Ernst Lubitsch

It’s difficult to put into words exactly what is meant by “the Lubitsch touch.” It alludes to the director’s delicate hand, effervescent humor, and economy with words and images. The ineffable style the term attempts to capture was with Lubitsch from his cinematic beginnings in Berlin to his early days in the American studio system and his final years as a Hollywood stalwart. Born January 28, 1892, in Berlin, this clothing manufacturer’s son left the family firm for a life in show business. After starting out as a performer in Max Reinhardt’s fabled theater company, Lubitsch went on to star in silent slapsticks for Berlin’s Bioscop film studio (he became well-known as the comic character Meyer), eventually writing and directing his own movies and becoming part of the legendary UFA studio. The international success of some of those films, such as Carmen (1918) and Madame du Barry (1919), led American film superstar Mary Pickford to invite him to Hollywood. On the basis of movies like The Marriage Circle (1924) and Lady Windermere’s Fan (1925), Lubitsch earned a reputation in America as a hit-maker, and unlike many of his peers, he took to the transition to sound like a duck to water, pioneering the narrative movie musical with such Maurice Chevalier vehicles as The Love Parade (1929) and The Smiling Lieutenant (1931), in which he indulged his fondness for Viennese operettas. An adept of sparkling dialogue and naughty innuendo, Lubitsch flourished particularly in the pre-Hays-code Hollywood era—his continental romantic comedies and fanciful period pieces were flush with sexual repartee; such glittering confections as Trouble in Paradise (1932), Design for Living (1933), and The Merry Widow (1934) were perfect escapes for the beleaguered audiences of the Great Depression. So great was Lubitsch’s success that in 1935 he was named head of production at Paramount, though he held that position for only one year. He would continue to craft more studio smashes, however, for MGM and 20th Century-Fox, many of which are still beloved today, including Ninotchka (1939), To Be or Not to Be (1942), and Heaven Can Wait (1943). Early in 1947, shortly before his death from a heart attack, Lubitsch was awarded a lifetime achievement Oscar, recognizing his “twenty-five-year contribution to motion pictures.”