Angel Screen 5 articles

Angel

1937

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  • Dietrich clashed with Lubitsch throughout the production, which may explain why she gives such a stubbornly uncharismatic performance; the professions of romantic longing on which the plot hinges are seldom convincing. Yet second-tier Lubitsch is still more elegant and perceptive than the best work of most other filmmakers; his brilliance is most evident in his depiction of the main characters' servants, whose commentary on the action reveals not only their masters' class biases but their own.

  • Lubitsch is running a grand experiment in ANGEL, one that, frankly, doesn’t succeed. In trying to make the build-up to the coming war refract within a love triangle, ANGEL wants to find a visual political eroticism, a way to build on Lubitsch’s expertise in subtlety to imply a solution to a problem that couldn’t be solved directly. That he couldn’t pull it off is testament only to the ambitions at hand, for the film itself is one of his most heart-rending and powerful.

  • Ernst Lubitsch serves medicinal bitters in the champagne flutes of this terse, elliptical, comedy-tinged yet pain-seared romance.. Lubitsch contrasts Frederick’s sexless gravity with Anthony’s seductive frivolity; with suavely piercing touches of erotic wit, he points ahead to the modern audacities of “Belle de Jour” and “Last Tango in Paris,” and to the higher irresponsibilities that make life worth living. In Lubitsch’s world, all politics is sexual.

  • Lubitsch, despite our knowledge to the contrary, chooses a visual approach which preserves the sense of effortless grace which the characters appear to possess. The beauty of Lubitsch's style in Angel is that he can present the vision of a universe governed by the most serene and civilized principles, not concealing the knowledge of plans and emotions gone awry, but observing the spectacle of people preserving their hard-won poise and balance.

  • That intimacy comes to the fore in Angel, a film that failed in its own time and has sometimes been dismissed as an ill-advised attempt to make a weepie in the high 1930s tradition. I would see it rather as a beautiful application of comic style—dry and precisely trimmed off at the edges—to the sympathetic treatment of three rather frail humans caught up in a melodramatic situation.

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