You Little “Angel,” You

Ernst Lubitsch, directing the film adaptation of yet another play, gave us in 1937 Angel, more drama than comedy and wonderfully cast.  Marlene Dietrich enacts Maria Barker, who feels neglected by her good husband, Frederick (Herbert Marshall), and takes a vacation to Paris to consort with her duchess friend Anna.  There, however, she falls—in love?—with Anthony Halton (Melvyn Douglas), but pulls away from further temptation.  But Halton does not pull away from her.

It’s a semi-comedy of manners about marital offense but is free of passionate anger and fierce jealousy.  Lubitsch imbues it with the usual champagne, but he also knows there is much at stake.  It is an actor’s piece:  oh, it’s based on a play, all right, yet it is a movie.

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