Ernst Lubitsch's first American comedy masterpiece, the film that kept him in the States. Reeling from the difficulties encountered on his first American film, "Rosita," Lubitsch was ready to return to his native Germany u... more »ntil Warner Brothers, looking for an identity other than Rin Tin Tin, offered the director a chance to make his own unique films. In "The Marriage Circle," Lubitsch's influential silent comedy effortlessly follows the love and lust, flirtations and phoniness among several upper-crust citizens of Vienna. In Lubitsch's deft hands, "The Marriage Circle" continues the tradition of manners comedy and shows the "touch" the director was famous for. Lubitsch knew that in an atmosphere of hushed whispers and discretion, a kiss can carry quite an erotic charge. To see "The Marriage Circle" in this glistening print derived from the original negative, with an appropriately lilting score by the Mont Alto Orchestra, is to fall in love with the movies--and Ernst Lubitsch--all over again.« less
"The classic that made Ernst Lubitsch one of the most imortant director in Hollywood history is finaly back for to the general public. THE MARRIAGE CIRCLE actually created the genre of sophisticated romantic comedy. Lubitsch's inteligence in his mise-en-scene as well as in his editing makes this a hiralious film, so funny it actually becomes a true work of great art. Two couples, one facing divorce and the other still loving each other. The wife of the first couple is attracted to the husband of the second couple (who also happens to be her best friend's husband). Though the husband of the second couple is rather annoyed by her interest in him, the other husband doesn't miss the chance to get the divorce in his terms. On the other hand, the wife of the second couple gets suspicous about her husband. So... the basic idea is rather simple, even conventional. It is how Lubitsch twists the plot around these themes and create situations that are unconfortable for the characters but hilarious for us, and how he develops these situations as cinema which is so great about this film. The result is, simply one of the funniest movie you've ever seen. As a silent film, it doesn't have dialogues. But when you see it, you'd understand that the film does not need dialogues (incidentally, Lubitsch himself remade this film as a musical: ONE HOUR WITH YOU which is also quite enjoyable, but not as good as the original).The story is set in Vienna, and the sophisticated costumes and sets are also a joy to watch. The women are beautiful; Florence Vidor is so innocently charming while Marie Prevost is gorgeously provocative. And You will also enjoy the delicious performance from the actor Adolph Menjou.The new transfer is created and restored from an original print. I had the chance to see it on a VHS test copy and it looks quite stunning. Certain scenes are tintted with gorgeous color, as originally intended by the filmmakers. So, it's actuallu not correct to list this film as Black and White."
Another Kind of Silent Comedy
Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 08/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The most famous examples of silent comedy are the brilliant films of Chaplin and Keaton, but this type of comedy was not the only type of comedy there was. The Marriage Circle shows another way of being funny, the sophisticated, witty, comedy of manners. It may not be as dazzling and inventive as the work of Chaplin or full of the daredevil stunts of Keaton, but Lubitsch?s style, in its own way, is equally amusing. Moreover it is this style of comedy which was developed into the sound era. The Marriage Circle can be seen as a sort of prototype for films like The Philadelphia Story. The story concerns two couples, Adolphe Menjou and Marie Prevost who loathe each other and Monte Blue and Florence Vidor who are living a life of married bliss. Prevost sets out to find love with Blue, who tries desperately to resist her, while Menjou sets out to obtain evidence of infidelity which he can use to obtain a divorce. This all leads to numerous complications and misunderstandings. The plot is relatively conventional, but it does not descend into farce. These are characters grounded in real life, albeit the life of high-society Vienna. The many laugh-out-loud moments are derived from the situations the characters find themselves in. The humour comes from the skill of the actors in portraying their characters. There is some really wonderful acting in this film. These actors can convey their thoughts with a subtle change of expression or posture. The quality of the print used for this Image DVD is superb. It is sepia tinted throughout and shows hardly any signs of damage. There are some occasional scratches and a few frames are missing here and there, but thankfully The Marriage Circle has survived in an almost pristine condition. The film is accompanied by a fine score which follows the action very closely and adds greatly to the enjoyment of the film."
Good edition of a interesting movie
A. Gonzalez de Aguilar | Madrid, Spain | 10/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ernst Lubitsch is considered the master of the American comedy of the Golden Age of Hollywood. With his famous "Lubitsch Touch" he became one of the few directors of that era recognized by the audiences. His movies contained witty and sophisticated humour but suitable for popular tastes, about sex and marriage. "The Marriage Circle" was his second film in Hollywood and was so successful at that time, that Lubitsch himself remaked it in 1932 as a musical comedy under the title of "One Hour with You". Seen today, the movie is a good example of how the career of Lubitsch in Hollywood was shapened from the very begining, but the story demands more atractive actors to play the roles. Unfortunately, Florence Vidor, Monte Blue and Adolphe Menjou are too wooden as actors and boring as personalities. Marie Prevost and Creighton Hale save the show playing their parts.
It is important to remark the contribution in the soundtrack for the Image edition of the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. As always, their musicians did a beautiful work, recreating the music for the movie with a compilation of compositions of the period. Please we want more silent movies with your music Mont Alto Orchestra!!!"
Ye Hath Little Morals
Samantha Kelley | USA | 08/20/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Josef Stock (Adolphe Menjou) is fed up with his selfish and inconsiderate wife (Marie Prevost), but he has no grounds upon which to divorce her. Luckily, he discovers that she has been making advances toward a man. He hires a detective to follow her and he finds that she has been spending time with Dr. Braun (Monte Blue) who happens to be Mizzi's best friend's (Florence Vidor) husband. Unfortunately, Mrs. Braun suspects her husband's infidelity, but she pegs the wrong woman.
This romantic comedy is enjoyable from a silent film lover's standpoint, but it offers nothing outside of the routine. There are no big laughs nor are any of the characters particularly loveable. If it is comic to watch morally unsound characters seduce each other, this movie is top notch, but I find that sort of thing overdone. This is simply a routine relationship film. It benefits from Ernst Lubitsch's direction with its clever close-ups and camera use, but the story is much less fun than his later films and much less important."
One of Lubitsch's most entertaining films
Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood | Manly, NSW Australia | 03/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the second American film directed by Ernst Lubitsch, and after a very successful career in Germany, he continued his high standard of filmmaking in the USA where "The Marriage Circle" was a huge success. Unlike his German contemporaries such as Fritz Lang and Murnau, Lubitsch always demonstrated a special skill in comedies, as can be seen in the `Lubitsch in Berlin' series by Kino Video. But he also knew how to simply entertain, and perhaps "The Marriage Circle" is one of the best examples of this. `Circle' is the right word because this is not about a love triangle - not even a square, but at least five people are involved, and Lubitsch focuses all the attention on these few characters, highlighting all kinds of details to draw the audience into this small circle of people and their feelings. While the plot and events are basically serious and taken from real life, Lubitsch manages to present the whole story with a tongue-in-cheek humour and smooth, sophisticated style that cannot fail to be greatly entertaining. The fun starts in the opening scenes with Adolphe Menjou as a husband who is made to feel he is only in the way, while his wife seems to feel unloved and promptly begins to aggressively flirt with the next man she meets, namely Dr Braun. This leads to problems between the doctor and his wife, and then the doctor's partner becomes involved, and all players are at their best, particularly Monte Blue as Dr Braun, and Marie Prevost as the persuasive and manipulative wife who starts the merry-go-round of disharmony and infidelities. A superb light classical musical score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra makes this film even more enjoyable, and an insert with a very good short essay about the film and Lubitsch also greatly contributes to the quality of this DVD. Perhaps a paragraph in the insert notes sums it up in describing the artistic skill for which Lubitsch became highly regarded, namely "...if people lack the vocabulary to appreciate the beauty of this particular rarefied language (that of the silent film), it's their loss. They'll never know the exhilaration of an impeccable artist." No doubt Lubitsch was such an artist, and perhaps "The Marriage Circle" more than any of his other films, is testament to that fact. "