A countess pulls her third runaway bride routine, to the embarrassment of her would-be husband, who promises to tame her with his caveman tactics. The Countess, Helene Mara (Jeanette MacDonald) decides to go to Monte Carlo to break the bank.
Jack Buchanan, who killed it as Jeffery Cordova in The Band Wagon (one of the most perfect films ever made), co-stars as Count Rudolph. He’s the love interest that tries to get near Helene, and is doing pretty well until she loses all her money. She then puts up a good front, and starts dating wealthy men to help her in her situation, but to get close to her Rudolph pretends to be a hair dresser renamed Paul, and there’s a great scene where MacDonalds goes through the “no, no, no, yes, yes yes” routine whilst her scalp is massaged (with Lubitsch, the intimation was often dirtier than anything that could be put on screen).
If Monte Carlo feels slight, it is. Both it and the majority of this set are hampered by the lockdown mode of sound cinema, something Lubitsch would learn to better navigate. But – more pointedly – though the touch is evident and the film has that lush black and white cinematography that makes everyone want to fuck someone they love, the jokes are modest. It’s just not that funny. It does end with a great meta-gag where the main character’s tribulations are paralleled by a stage play they’re watching. Buchanan plays along until the end, when he insists he doesn’t like unhappy endings. It’s a Lubitsch film you might feel comfortable watching with your mom, and that’s the worst you can say about it.
I have come down with a cold again. I had the shivers and sweats last night, and slept for about four hours, then napped for about four today. I wanted to go see the Greats of Roth and possibly hang with a friend, but that would have been rude. My internal clock is shot, I’m drinking lots of liquids and huddling near my heater, suffering the worst of it. And so I need some comfort food, and with the events of this week playing out as they did it’s likely I will complete a trilogy over the next two days. If I get riled up, I might write about why Temple of Doom, racism and eugenics aside, is my favorite of the series, and my current thoughts on those Jones films.