997 Cluny Brown

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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domino harvey
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997 Cluny Brown

#1 Post by domino harvey » Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:58 pm

Cluny Brown

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The final film completed by Ernst Lubitsch, this zany, zippy comedy of manners, set in England on the cusp of World War II, is one of the worldly-wise director's most effervescent creations. Jennifer Jones shines in a rare comedic turn as Cluny Brown, an irrepressible heroine with a zeal for plumbing. Sent to work as a parlormaid at a stuffy country manor, she proceeds to turn the household upside down—with plenty of help from Adam Belinski (Charles Boyer), an eccentric continental exile who has fled the Nazis but is still worried about where his next meal is coming from. Sending up British class hierarchy with Lubitsch's famously light touch, Cluny Brown is a topsy-turvy farce that says nuts to the squirrels and squirrels to the nuts.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• New conversation between film critics Molly Haskell and Farran Smith Nehme on unconventional female characters in Ernst Lubitsch's films
• New video essay by film scholar Kristin Thompson
The Lubitsch Touch, an interview with film scholar Bernard Eisenschitz from 2004
• Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film from 1947, featuring Olivia de Havilland and Charles Boyer
• PLUS: An essay by novelist and essayist Siri Hustvedt

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Drucker
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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#2 Post by Drucker » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:00 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:58 pm
As teased in this month’s newsletter clue
This is really an adorable film that I caught on 35 a few years ago. What sticks out to me the most is that I found it to be more charming than laugh out loud funny, except for one perfectly timed gag about 35 minutes or so into the film. Looking forward to revisiting.

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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#3 Post by domino harvey » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:03 pm

It is a very charming movie. Jennifer Jones’ introduction
SpoilerShow
doing plumbing work under the sink in “unladylike” fashion, in direct contrast to Jones’ typical refined screen presence
is classic Lubitsch subversion from the get-go. Glad to see Criterion still has some more Fox titles in the works

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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#4 Post by KJones77 » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:08 pm

Phenomenal news!

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knives
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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#5 Post by knives » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:12 pm

Great to see more Lubitsch in the collection. Especially one of his best. I wonder if it's in their interest to get the Preminger titles connected with this period?

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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#6 Post by swo17 » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:16 pm

Nice news, coupled with Kino doing Angel and Bluebeard's Eighth Wife

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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#7 Post by FrauBlucher » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:26 pm

Has this ever been released on DVD before in the states?

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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#8 Post by swo17 » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:28 pm

I don't believe so

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domino harvey
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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#9 Post by domino harvey » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:28 pm

Nope. BFI put it out on DVD years ago in the UK as one of their early wave of Lubitsch and Preminger Fox titles, none of which ever got a US release for whatever reason (though some may have eventually ended up on Fox’s DVD-R Line, I don’t keep tabs on it anymore)

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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#10 Post by Dansu Dansu Dansu » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:28 pm

Best surprise of the year so far! One of my personal favorite Lubitsch films. So gently daft.

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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#11 Post by dustybooks » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:43 pm

This is splendid. I not only love this movie (which I first saw via Filmstruck late last year), I also love the newsletter clue — props for getting Schulz’s wavy lines down.

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Randall Maysin
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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#12 Post by Randall Maysin » Tue Mar 26, 2019 3:37 pm

I saw this in a movie theatre a few years ago, with my parents and an old (in both senses of the word) family friend. So for a little while, in my mind, this film was like a cinematic holy grail (!). I think I have never laughed so much at anything as I did at that (practically empty) screening. A truly surreal experience of a genuinely surreal film. But catching parts of it a while later on YouTube, my verdict has changed a bit - a healthy portion of it is really quite lame, but the plumbing innuendos, a number of good other bits (especially the opening sequence), Jennifer Jones's brilliant performance, and the wonderfully artificial, almost Bunuelian cinematography, sets, and atmosphere that make Jones and Boyer's inevitable anti-establishment love affair seem that much more precarious, touching and absurd, make it a pretty special film, even if it has too many moldy sections for absolute comfort.

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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#13 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:09 am

This is one of my all-time favorite films––top ten material, depending on the day. I first caught it on TCM after patiently tracking it for quite some times out of my love for Lubitsch. Like fellow 40s favorite HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO, I enjoyed it very much at first but it was only after chance rewatches that I grew to love it so fervently. Its Lubitschean depiction of puritanical prudishness and bodily dissociation of both the sexual and scatological kind is sort of the perfect blending of style and substance. I ALWAYS find it funny, and Cluny banging the pipe is one of the great unaging gags in cinema. Even stretches that might at first watch seem dull, like Cluny listening to her stodgy fiance the druggist play music in front of his painting of the lonely sheep, grow funny in their absolute absurdity and banality. And Boyer brings all his European grace to a character not unlike the one from HOLD BACK THE DAWN, this strange character who by all evidence from other characters is an intelligent, established political intellectual, but also bounces around from bed to bed both literally and metaphorically. He's such a strange creature. And then there's how the Carmel's respond to Cluny when she first arrives, which is one of the most heartbreakingly funny scenes I know.

I'm radiant over this film's being brought into the collection officially––I chose it as the very last thing I would watch on Filmstruck, to enjoy it in a beautiful HD transfer rather than the YouTube rip I've been watching for years.

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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#14 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Mar 27, 2019 5:11 am

I know I am skating on thin ice bringing this up now the clue thread is locked but did anyone else feel that the body owed a lot to Peanut's Charlie Brown? BTW I thought it was Robert Redford on top

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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#15 Post by CSM126 » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:24 am

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 5:11 am
I know I am skating on thin ice bringing this up now the clue thread is locked but did anyone else feel that the body owed a lot to Peanut's Charlie Brown? BTW I thought it was Robert Redford on top
You’re… you’re joking right?

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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#16 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:54 am

CSM126 wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:24 am
NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 5:11 am
I know I am skating on thin ice bringing this up now the clue thread is locked but did anyone else feel that the body owed a lot to Peanut's Charlie Brown? BTW I thought it was Robert Redford on top
You’re… you’re joking right?
No I think you're confusing me with Dostoevsky

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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#17 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:41 pm

I might be in the minority opinion on this, but I caught this on 35mm back in 2012 and found it to be one of Lubitsch's worst efforts (but still not as bad as Sumurun). I caught it on a double-bill with Trouble in Paradise which is so perfectly frothy, delightful and sexy and this felt like it had nowhere near the spark of the earlier film. I was bothered by the strange paternal quality it develops when it's so obvious that Charles Boyer must be double the age of Jennifer Jones while donning what I think is a ridiculous looking toupee (unconfirmed, but maybe someone here who knows men's hairlines better than I do can confirm). It's also not very funny, which is rarity in the films of Lubitsch. There's a few moments for grimaces, but there's no great pathos and comedy that you'd find in his best work. More saccharine than sweet.

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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#18 Post by domino harvey » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:48 pm

Like Ray Milland, Boyer started going bald very young, though I don’t think he ever followed the Dean Jagger/Milland method of forgoing romantic leading man status by shedding the rug on-screen in later years— Boyer went bald so early that he had some form of toupee in every film he made all the way back

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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#19 Post by Finch » Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:52 pm

Very happy to see this coming from Criterion: great film despite the icky age gap between the two leads.

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Re: 997 Cluny Brown

#20 Post by swo17 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 4:30 pm


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domino harvey
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Re: 997 Cluny Brown

#21 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 17, 2019 4:32 pm

Can’t believe they didn’t talk to Bogdanovich for this one, he spent decades trying to make a film named after a line in this movie

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Re: 997 Cluny Brown

#22 Post by Randall Maysin » Tue Jun 18, 2019 11:01 am

Or Joseph McBride for that matter!! I've always had an inkling that Bunuel, who came to work in Hollywood....at some point in time not too distant from this film's release..., and who I've heard said he very much wanted to work with Jennifer Jones, was intrigued by her at least in part because maybe he saw this movie, although I'm sure (if he really felt/said that) a lot of it was just JJ herself, her dreamy and slightly bizarre beauty and her friendly, absurd, slightly mentally-fetid manner and persona that is shown off and used so well in Cluny and could so easily have a really good Bunuel film structured around it. She even sort of looks like a Mexican film diva of the 1940s. And the film itself has a very odd look and feel that really reminds me to a degree of some of Bunuel's last films.
Last edited by Randall Maysin on Wed Aug 21, 2019 7:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Forthcoming: Cluny Brown

#23 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:18 pm

HinkyDinkyTruesmith wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:09 am
This is one of my all-time favorite films––top ten material, depending on the day. I first caught it on TCM after patiently tracking it for quite some times out of my love for Lubitsch. Like fellow 40s favorite HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO, I enjoyed it very much at first but it was only after chance rewatches that I grew to love it so fervently. Its Lubitschean depiction of puritanical prudishness and bodily dissociation of both the sexual and scatological kind is sort of the perfect blending of style and substance. I ALWAYS find it funny, and Cluny banging the pipe is one of the great unaging gags in cinema. Even stretches that might at first watch seem dull, like Cluny listening to her stodgy fiance the druggist play music in front of his painting of the lonely sheep, grow funny in their absolute absurdity and banality. And Boyer brings all his European grace to a character not unlike the one from HOLD BACK THE DAWN, this strange character who by all evidence from other characters is an intelligent, established political intellectual, but also bounces around from bed to bed both literally and metaphorically. He's such a strange creature. And then there's how the Carmel's respond to Cluny when she first arrives, which is one of the most heartbreakingly funny scenes I know.
I don’t have a whole lot to add to this great appreciation, but I’ll second it as a masterpiece that I loved the first time but on a revisit absolutely killed (and I had the same response to Hail the Conquering Hero though it took more than a few watches for that to grow of me). The presentation of the elitist young liberals making small gestures passionately to make themselves feel better in a stand against Hitler is hysterical and provocative, making light with a sociological bite. Lubitsch often walks a comfortable line between charming and funny, but this feels like one of his most successful efforts, partly because he juggles far more unique characters than usual whose eccentricities are further exposed upon rewatches and add layers of his touch to the experience I couldn’t believe I missed the first time. I have a feeling there are many more to discover and I look forward to seeing the film again in criterion’s new restoration just in time for list submission. This has to be up there for one of the best releases of the year.

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Re: 997 Cluny Brown

#24 Post by Finch » Thu Aug 15, 2019 3:30 pm


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domino harvey
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Re: 997 Cluny Brown

#25 Post by domino harvey » Thu Aug 15, 2019 3:49 pm

Well, it's brighter. I didn't realize the Lubtisch Touch extra was ported over from the French release-- too bad they didn't bring over the other extras with Douchet and Chabrol, I'd have liked to hear them even more!

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