Sunday, March 23, 2014

Blind Spot: The Smiling Lieutenant (1931)

Hopkins and Chevalier in Lubitsch's masterful rom-com.

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Produced by Ernst Lubitsch
Written by Ernest Vajda and Samson Raphaelson (based on a novel and an operetta)
Starring Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, Miriam Hopkins, Charles Ruggles and George Barbier

Plot Summary: After a misunderstanding, an easy-going lieutenant (Chevalier) with a new girlfriend (Colbert) is forced to marry a foreign princess (Hopkins).

Significance: As one of Lubitsch's most popular musicals, it was featured on the New York Times "Best Ten" list of 1931, and it was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Note: Surprisingly, this film didn't receive one vote in the recent Sight and Sound poll.

Thoughts: The film is simply a delight from start to finish. Chevalier is charming as the suave lieutenant, and the ladies of the cast also hold their own. As the lieutenant's girlfriend, Colbert is given more dramatic scenes, while Hopkins as the princess gets a number of comedic ones. (It's easy to see why Hopkins would work with Lubitsch two more times after this.) The film delivers plenty of laughs in the midst of this love triangle, and at 89 minutes long, it never lags. If you haven't seen a Lubitsch film, I'd highly recommend this one, especially for fans of The Artist, which feels reminiscent of this 1930's classic.

Rating: ****

This is the third film in my 2014 Blind Spot Series, as first started by Ryan McNeil.


  1. YAY!!!! You know how much I love this film! So glad that you saw it, and loved it!

    1. Yeah, it's such a fun little movie. I need to check out Lubitsch's other musicals.