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Saturday, October 27, 2012

That Lady In Ermine (1948)

In the mid 19th century kingdom of Bergamo, the Countess (Betty Grable) who rules the kingdom has her honeymoon night interrupted by the invasion of Hungarian forces lead by a dashing hussar (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.). Her groom (Cesar Romero) flees the castle and leaves her to deal with the invaders. Credited to Ernest Lubitsch, who died after a week's filming, the film was actually directed by Otto Preminger. One can see the hands of Lubitsch on the material (he also produced it) and it bears the mark of those early 30s Lubtisch musicals like THE LOVE PARADE and THE SMILING LIEUTENANT but it's a flat rather than bubbly and the censors have removed the risque adulterous content of the original script. Even if Lubitsch had lived, it seems unlikely that he would have been able to transform the material. The casting of Grable is all wrong for one thing. Grable's appeal was always that of the all American girl next door, not a sophisticated European countess and she lacks the skills of a good comedienne to pull it off. The songs by Frederick Hollander and Leo Robin are an undistinguished bunch though This Is The Moment got a best song Oscar nomination. With Walter Abel, Harry Davenport, Reginald Gardiner and Whit Bissell.

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