If you’re as obsessed with Billy Wilder as I am, you’ll know that he had a sign on his wall that read ‘How would Lubitsch do it?’. If you watch Trouble in Paradise (1932), you’ll understand why.
A thief, Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall) and a pickpocket, Lily Vautier (Miriam Hopkins), fall in love and decide to team up and con the owner of a perfume company, Mariette Colet (Kay Francis). However, things don’t go as planned and Monescu falls in love with Mariette.
Dripping with sexual innuendo and sophistication, Trouble in Paradise has ‘the Lubitsch touch’ written all over it. You can’t really explain what ‘the Lubitsch touch’ is, you can only watch it and nod to yourself amusingly when it hits you. It’s as subtle and witty as they come and everybody in Hollywood knew it. In fact, Trouble in Paradise is so influential that almost every type of comedy can be traced back to it: screwball comedy, sophisticated comedy, romantic comedy, comedy of errors, you name it. They’re all there.
With a supporting cast that includes Edward Everett Horton, Charles Ruggles and C. Aubrey Smith, Trouble in Paradise is arguably Ernst Lubitsch’s masterpiece. And that’s saying something when you’re talking about a man who hardly ever made a bad film.