Restauriert durch das Museum of Modern Art, New York, mit finanzieller Unterstützung von Matthew und Natalie Bernstein
Restored by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, with the financial support of Matthew and Natalie Bernstein.
In his second American-made picture, “THEMARRIAGE CIRCLE,” for Warner Brothers, Ernst Lubitsch, the famous European director, has not only again demonstrated his genius but his versatility as well. He has shown he is as much at home with an intimate domestic story as with the spectacular and heavily dramatic and produced a comedy on unconventional lines that is brilliant and sparkling.
With a technique as revolutionary as Chaplin’s in “A WOMAN OF PARIS” and resembling it in its subtlety, he has handled a rather daring and sensational theme with simplicity and directness; concentration of action, incident and even sets being always evident. For instance, he confines his scenes to the particular portion of the set in which the action occurs, puts over his points with a minimum of footage, having his characters portray whole situations in a gesture, a look and even by absolute in action at times. It is an excellent example of finely handled pantomime; there is a minimum of subtitles, but few are needed, for the situations are so deftly handled as to render them unnecessary.
Lubitsch has taken a domestic entanglement involving an intimate circle of friends in Vienna, where in a flirtatious wifewhose husband has tired of her uses all her feminine wiles to win over the happily married husband of her best friend. With possibilities for handling both as a problem play and a melodrama, he has kept the comedy element always uppermost and in situations which threaten to be melodramatic he deftly turns the scale, as when the heroine feigns an attempt at suicide the disgust of the hero is shown when he finds the pistol was not loaded, and the heroine after he leaves calmly manicures her fingers.
By no means the least of Mr. Lubitsch’s accomplishments is his superb handling of his players. Adolphe Menjou equals his performance in “A WOMAN OF PARIS,” Monte Blue and Marie Prevost in the leading roles and Florence Vidor and Creighton Hale as well measure up to the same standard in characterizations quite different from their usual types. Mr.Lubitsch has brought out to the utmost the abilities of his players and one can well imagine director and cast as thoroughly enjoying the situations while they were being filmed, so natural and spontaneous seems the acting.
Charles S. Sewell in Moving Picture World, 16.2.1924
This picture marks an epoch in film direction. It is possibly the first time any director has had the nerve to put a farce comedy on the screen, play It legitimately and get laughs.
Almost any director would have resorted to the obvious hoakum to get this one over. "Jazzing It up” would have been the thing that most would have tried and ruined a fine piece of work.
This picture is there. It has laughs and it hassex. This is a combination that can't be beaten at the box office. It may not get over with a bang the first day played, but it is one that they are going out to talk about and the business is bound to build. Not only that, but it’s apicture that certainly gives Marie Prevost the chance of her life, and she assuredly makes the most of it, walking away with all the honors, although Monte Blue and Adolphe Menjou also registered with distinct force.
The detail in direction has a whole lot to do with the manner in which this trio impress the audience. The picture is played at a slow tempo. There is not the slightest suggestion of trying to force action or rush things for laughs; the situations occur naturally, are worked out logically and therefore all the more laughter-provoking to the audience.
It is the story of a wife who fears her husbandis interested in another woman, so she makes the greatest effort to throw her husband and her greatest woman friend together.
In reality it is this same woman who has designs on the husband, who is a doctor specializing in nervous disorders. She arranges on two different occasions to have the doctor in her apartment alone, and although she employs every known female blandishment to make him fall, he resists her.
Finally her husband (yes, she is married) decides the wife has supplied him with sufficient evidence to have him get leave of her, something he has sought for years, and after the detective has turned in his report of the doctor’s visit he calls on him the next morning and thanks him for the assistance he has given in bringing about the desired result.
It is corking farce comedy, decidedly Continental in flavor, and, while risque, there is nothing about it to offend audiences. The punch is "there” without the awful groggy effect that comes after it.
Florence Vidor as the wife handles herself admirably, but Miss Prevost so far overshadows there is no question as to whom the picture belongs.
Her husband, as played by Menjou, is a work of art repressed in style is his work, but with a touch of the finer little things, such as an arched eyebrow, a smile or a wink that mean volumes. Creighton Hale does fairly well as the doctor’s associate, who, while in love with the wife, finally contents himself with the cast-off flapper wife who was the cause of all the trouble.
This is a picture that no one can go wrong with.
Fred. in Variety,7.2.1924