Ernst Lubitsch

The Smiling Lieutenant

The Smiling Lieutenant

Maurice Chevalier's randy Viennese lieutenant is enamored of Claudette Colbert's freethinking, all-girl-orchestra-leading cutie. Yet complications ensue when the sexually repressed princess of the fictional kingdom of Flausenthurm, played by newcomer Miriam Hopkins, sets her sights on him. The Smiling Lieutenant is a delightful showcase for its rising female stars, who are never more charming than when Colbert tunefully instructs Hopkins, "Jazz Up Your Lingerie."

Film Info

  • Ernst Lubitsch
  • United States
  • 1931
  • 89 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.33:1
  • English

Available In

Collector's Set

Eclipse Series 8: Lubitsch Musicals

Eclipse 8: Lubitsch Musicals

DVD Box Set

4 Discs

$47.96

The Smiling Lieutenant
Cast
Maurice Chevalier
Niki
Miriam Hopkins
Princess Anna
Claudette Colbert
Franzi
Charlie Ruggles
Max
George Barbier
King Adolf XV
Hugh O’Connell
Orderly
Credits
Director
Ernst Lubitsch
Screenplay
Samson Raphaelson
Screenplay
Ernest Vajda
Producer
Ernst Lubitsch
Based upon “The Waltz Dream” by
Leopold Jacobson
Based upon “The Waltz Dream” by
Felix Dörman
& the novel “Nux Der Prinzgemahl” by
Hans Müller
Cinematography
George Folsey
Editing
Merrill G. White
Art direction
Hans Dreier
Music
Oscar Straus
Lyrics
Clifford Grey

From The Current

From the Eclipse Shelf: The Smiling Lieutenant
From the Eclipse Shelf: The Smiling Lieutenant

Quel scandale! In The Smiling Lieutenant’s “Jazz Up Your Lingerie,” one of the most delightful numbers from all the titles in the Eclipse series Lubitsch Musicals, Claudette Colbert’s free-and-easy flapper Franzi gives Miriam Hopkins’s prim…

On Film / Short Takes
Jan 20, 2012
Eclipse Series 8:
Lubitsch Musicals

With the advent of sound, anything seemed possible in Hollywood in the late 1920s. Studios were eager to exploit the evolving medium’s new capabilities, and what better way to dazzle audiences’ ears and eyes than with full-out musicals? The first…

By Michael Koresky


Feb 12, 2008

Explore

Ernst Lubitsch

Producer, Director

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.”