This is the DVD I am most excited to see this year. I first hoped for this over a year ago, and I am utterly thrilled to see Design for Living, one of Ernst Lubitsch’s best films, coming in an official Criterion release. It’s available on Blu-ray (right) or in a two-disc DVD set.
Design for Living stars the sassy Miriam Hopkins (who also worked with Lubitsch in Trouble in Paradise, a caper romance also available from Criterion), Gary Cooper (whom I enjoyed in Lubitsch’s Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife), and Fredric March as a group of three artists who all live together. They try to keep things platonic, but various combinations and misunderstandings ensue. The story is credited to Noel Coward, but the actual lines came from Ben Hecht (His Girl Friday).
It’s a sparkling example of Lubitsch’s sophisticated touch with romantic comedy that actually acknowledges (subtly, given the era) the presence of sex. He loves his love triangles, and he balances them well, making the eventual suggestion of the pattern continuing all the more plausible.
According to Criterion, the extra features will include:
- New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
- “The Clerk”, starring Charles Laughton, director Ernst Lubitsch’s segment of the 1932 film If I Had a Million, which he made just before Design for Living
- Selected-scene commentary by film professor William Paul
- Play of the Week: A Choice of Coward, a 1964 British television production of the play Design for Living, introduced on camera by playwright Noël Coward
- New interview with film scholar and screenwriter Joseph McBride on Lubitsch and Ben Hecht’s screen adaptation of the Coward play
- A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Kim Morgan
I can’t wait to find out more about the film, as well as seeing the rare extras, including a chance to compare the movie with its source material. How exciting!
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