How Did Lubitsch Do It?

Joseph McBride

Columbia University Press

How Did Lubitsch Do It?

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Pub Date: June 2018

ISBN: 9780231186445

544 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $40.00£32.95

Pub Date: June 2018

ISBN: 9780231546645

544 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $39.99£32.95

How Did Lubitsch Do It?

Joseph McBride

Columbia University Press

Orson Welles called Ernst Lubitsch (1892-1947) "a giant. . . . Lubitsch’s talent and originality are stupefying." Jean Renoir said, "He invented the modern Hollywood." Celebrated for his distinct style and credited with inventing the classic genre of the Hollywood romantic comedy and helping to create the musical, Lubitsch won the admiration of his fellow directors, including Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder, whose office featured a sign on the wall asking, "How would Lubitsch do it?" Yet despite the high esteem in which Lubitsch is held, as well as his unique status as a leading filmmaker in both Germany and the United States, today he seldom receives the critical attention accorded other major directors of his era.

How Did Lubitsch Do It? restores Lubitsch to his former place in the world of cinema. Joseph McBride analyzes Lubitsch’s films in rich detail in the first in-depth critical study to consider the full scope of his work and its evolution in both his native and adopted lands. McBride explains the "Lubitsch Touch" and shows how the director challenged American attitudes toward romance and sex. Expressed obliquely, through sly innuendo, Lubitsch’s risqué, sophisticated, continental humor engaged the viewer’s intelligence while circumventing the strictures of censorship in such masterworks as The Marriage Circle, Trouble in Paradise, Design for Living, Ninotchka, The Shop Around the Corner, and To Be or Not to Be. McBride's analysis of these films brings to life Lubitsch's wit and inventiveness and offers revealing insights into his working methods.
McBride subtly and concretely describes the change in cinematic tastes over the course of a century. We who love cinema and Lubitsch should be grateful to have such a book in our lifetime, and it will be the definitive work for years to come. Molly Haskell, author of From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies
A critical study. Ray Kelly, Wellesnet
Introduction: “How Did Lubitsch Do It?”
1. “Herr Ernst Lubitsch”
2. “Who Is Ernst Lubitsch?”
3. The “Berlin Style” in Hollywood
4. Tin Cans in a Warehouse?
5. “Give Me a Moment, Please”
6. “In Times Like These . . .”
7. Master of the Ineffable
8. The Aging Master
9. The Door Closes
Epilogue: The Importance of Being Ernst
Acknowledgments and Influences
Filmography
Notes on Sources

About the Author

Joseph McBride is a film historian and professor in the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University. He is the author of many books, including Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success (1992); Steven Spielberg: A Biography (1997), Searching for John Ford: A Life (2001), and What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career (2006).