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Monday, November 3, 2014

The Doll (1919)

This is an unusual Lubitsch silent movie from the German period.  It opens with a simple set, with a cut out house and trees and a road.  It alludes to the story line that is to come.  Lancelot is the nephew of a wealthy man who wishes to have heirs.  Lancelot is not at all interested in getting married, and tells his uncle that if he wants heirs, he should marry someone himself and leave Lancelot alone, then he escapes.  The scene that follows is the most like the American movies of Buster Keaton than anything I have seen of Lubitsch's work.  There are 40 prospective brides, followed by the uncle and his manservant, all chasing Lancelot over hill and dale.

Lancelot eludes them and takes refuge in a monastery with gluttonous monks who are seeking a meal ticket as their funds dry up.  When they see an ad placed by Lancelot's uncle saying all is forgiven and money is to be his if he marries, they concoct a scheme for him to marry a life sized robotic doll.  The doll develops a glitch, Ossi takes the doll's place, marries Lancelot, and manages to essentially trap the initially reluctant groom into marriage.  It is a bit of a weak role for a woman compared to other Lubitsch films.  While Ossi is clever in getting Lancelot, it is a much more traditional role than some of the best of Lubitsch.

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