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Cluny Brown Reviews

The last film with the fabled "Lubitsch touch" contains moments of satire that raise it to classic status, as Lubitsch, Hoffenstein and Reinhardt take shots at upper-class England with deadly aim. Otherwise it's a bubble-light (and slightly flat) comedy-romance, set in pre-WWII England, which pairs Czech writer-refugee Boyer with plumber's daughter Jones, the maid at the genteel country manor where he is staying. Boyer's hosts know vaguely that something is happening in Europe and it concerns some Austrian but that's as far as their immediate knowledge goes. Theirs is a life of gardening, garden parties, tea, and weed-killers until Jones and Boyer upset the apple cart and bring some spirit into the household. The aforementioned "Lubitsch touch" can be seen in the final frames of CLUNY BROWN. It is all photographed in the reflection of a shop window, where Jones faints on the street and Boyer kneels beside her. A crowd gathers and a policeman begins to bend forward but Boyer stops him with a smile. No words are spoken as smiles cross the faces in the crowd and Jones comes to; it is universally realized that the mild fainting is the result of her being pregnant. This may be Jones's most unhampered performance, which isn't saying much. She's bolstered by the Brentwood British colonials of southern California, notably Smith and the two Reginalds, Gardiner and Owen, but she hasn't much chemistry to offer Boyer. Lubitsch, ever the energetic craftsman, began another film almost immediately, THAT LADY IN ERMINE, but he lasted only eight days, suffering a heart attack (Otto Preminger took over the direction). Lubitsch had had five heart attacks but refused to give up his cigars, which he inhaled. He joked about the illness at a party with Jeanette MacDonald but died four days later, on November 30, 1947, of his sixth heart attack.