Sunday Silents: The Films of Ernst Lubitsch

Sunday Silents: The Films of Ernst Lubitsch

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

3:00 pm | live piano accompaniment with Marta Waterman 
The Doll (1919) | Die Puppe, original title | 48 min | Comedy, Fantasy | Germany
The Oyster Princess (1919) | Die Austernprinzessin, original title) | 58 min | Comedy | Germany

Famed Hollywood director Ernst Lubitsch, known for his elegant settings and artistic productions, began his career directing silent films. Lubitsch was born 125 years ago January 28.

dollThe Doll, starring German ballerina Ossi Oswalda, is from the same source material as the ballet Coppelia. In it, Lancelot flees to a monastery to avoid a forced marriage and the monks suggest he marry a mechanical doll instead. The doll maker’s assistant accidentally breaks the doll and convinces the real girl to mimic the doll. Lubitsch directed the film in Germany in 1919.

 

 

oystThe second feature, The Oyster Princess, also stars Ossi Oswaldo, who was known as “the German Mary Pickford.” She plays a spoiled heiress to an oyster fortune. But she wants more—namely, a husband who is a real-life prince. Eager to please her, her father (played by Victor Janson ) sends for royalty, Prince Nucki, to woo his daughter. The prince sends his friend Josef to check things out. But Josef decides to introduce himself as Prince Nucki—causing hilarity through mistaken identity and plot twists.

Lubitsch moved to Hollywood in 1922 to direct a Mary Pickford film, and went on to become one of the most respected directors in the world. His films had a luminous, artistic quality, and his choice of subject was charming and uplifting. He was known to have a certain “touch”, as described by his biographer Scott Eyman: “With few exceptions Lubitsch’s movies take place neither in Europe nor America but in Lubitschland, a place of metaphor, benign grace, rueful wisdom…To the unsophisticated eye, Lubitsch’s work can appear dated, simply because his characters belong to a world of formal sexual protocol. But his approach to film, to comedy, and to life was not so much ahead of its time as it was singular, and totally out of any time.”

Marta Waterman will add her own authentic element, accompanying the program with original piano music.