Angel (1937)

Angel (Ernst Lubitsch, 1937)

Woman and her husband take separate vacations, and she falls in love with another man.

While in Paris, a lady named Mrs. Brown/Mrs. Barker/Angel (Marlene Dietrich) meets a man (Melvyn Douglas) with whom she falls in love. However, back in London she has a husband (Herbert Marshall) that is a diplomat and a workaholic. They barely see each other. But one day at a race track the two men meet and Sir Francis Barker, the husband, invites Anthony Dalton, the secret lover, to stay under his roof. A series of hide and seek events will lead Barker to discover the truth. And at the end, back in Paris, Angel will have to choose between her lover or her husband.

With Marlene Dietrich in the title role and Ernst Lubitsch directing one could expect to have a great and sophisticated entertainment in the kind of the “Lubitsch touch” and the Dietrich legendary presence. But it is mostly an average romantic comedy that doesn’t have the wit and quality of the two stars’ other pictures. Despite a promising opening act, the pairing suffers from a poorly written script and an average cast of supporting characters portrayed by excellent actors. When acquainted to quality films like To Be or Not To Be, The Shop Around the Corner, Ninotchka, and Design For Living from Lubitsch Angel is clearly a letdown and one of his lesser Hollywood films.  

Angel being my last Ernst Lubitsch film on my quest at tackling down the 1000 Greatest Films of All Time by They Shoot Pictures Don’t They, it reminds me how I recently got into his films and now I have seen most of his major work. The list of Pantheon Directors is getting shorter everyday and I still have some films from John Ford, Fritz Lang, Josef Von Sternberg, Max Ophüls, F.W. Murnau, Robert Flaherty, and D.W. Griffith to watch before getting the job done and passing into another slice of the list. Still, so many great films to watch!

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