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Trouble in Paradise (1932)

Trouble in Paradise. Feature film. (1932, 83 mins) IMDB

...There certainly is trouble in paradise...

A

must see film.

If the same film was made today, shot for shot, you would enjoy it and not know it was from 1932. It stands up even if the film stock could use a restoration.

It's the dialogue. The romance. The acting. The compositions. The film is a tour de force. And did I mention it was made in 1932? It's hard to image how it could have been improved.

There is a three-act structure to the story which is crisp and lean. The film shows how images can set a scene quickly and completely. It is an example of what film can do.

The story is straightforward. A suave and charming crook is in Venice. He robs a fellow of his wallet and cash right in the man's hotel room. He pretends to be a baron and is in love with a woman who pretends to be a countess, but like him, she's a crook. In a hotel scene where they are to have a romantic dinner, we and they realize they are both crooked and thieves and madly in love.

Flash forward to Paris where we met the second woman and the third leg of this love triangle. She's Madame Colet. She's fabulously rich, owns a prominent perfume company. She spends money as if it were sand to brush off your body after a day on the beach.

Enter our two crooks who want to rob her blind and who come into her employ as secretaries.

They wait for the big score but before that arrives, the man from Venice recognizes our thief and he must leave or be thrown in jail. He and his lover will escape to Berlin with whatever they can take, but not so fast. He's in love with the beautiful and rich Madame Colet.

There are scenes in this film that last no more than one second. That's what I mean by lean. There are no cheats. A one second scene tells us so much.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE is a students of filmmaking should watch over and over because there is so much to learn from it.

My few words here have only gave an overview.

There is, for example, a scene where Gascon and Colet embrace and kiss. We see different shots of the moment, but most of what we see isn't direct shots of them especially not even a close-up. Instead, we see a reflection of their embrace on a bed. That's filmmaking.

Posted 2009/02/17 at 17h58ET in Movie Commentary.

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