By Candlelight

1933

Comedy / Music / Romance

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Plot summary


Uploaded by: FREEMAN
October 25, 2022 at 10:24 AM

Director

Top cast

Elissa Landi as Marie
Paul Lukas as Josef
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
638.82 MB
1280*948
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 9 min
P/S ...
1.16 GB
1458*1080
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 9 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by mark.waltz 8 / 10

A forgotten gem!

Ah, Hollywood the 1930's. There was so much art deco one would think that the streets were lined with marble instead of cement. From the Ernst Lubitsch musicals of Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier, to the Picolino of Fred and Ginger, there was more glamor than Versailles in its hay day. It's hard to believe that this era was only 70-80 years ago, and the first World War hadn't had a Roman numeral on it. But this was the depression, and over at Universal studios, director James Whale ("Frankenstein", "The Bride of Frankenstein", the very glamorous 1936 "Show Boat") staged this comic romance about a butler who pretends to be a Lord to seduce a great lady, who is actually a maid! That part is apparent from the moment the plot gets going. The couple is played by Paul Lukas (Academy Award winner for "Watch on the Rhine" and the romantic co-star of Ethel Merman in Broadway's "Call Me Madam") and Elissa Landi, an Italian born leading lady who was charming in several dozen now forgotten films. Lukas is trained by his boss, Nils Asther, in the art of seduction, and when Asther comes home early from a date, he overhears Lukas in action and pretends to be his butler. Up to that point, Lukas would turn off the power in Asther's apartment while his master was entertaining an unsuspecting young lady, then bring in a candelabra to set up a romantic tryst. Now, Asther does that for Lukas "just for the fun of it", then makes a play for Landi himself. She, however, is only interested in "the Lord of the manor". Husbands of Asther's playmates confront him, a cigarette case is lost, and delightful confusion erupts. Imagine Landi's shock when Asther's latest conquest ends up being her boss! During the year that Universal introduced "The Invisible Man", introduced new sob queen Margaret Sullavan ("Only Yesterday") and spoofed Warner Brothers' "42nd Street" with "Moonlight and Pretzels", it released this art-deco gem, a fast-moving, well acted comedy of manners (or lack of...). Lukas, who up to that point was known in Hollywood as the leading man of many women's films, proves himself to be much more debonair than presented in the past. With Landi, he shares some great scenes on a train ride where they mingle with common folk at a town fair. Landi is good in a drunk scene, but its Lukas and Asther who get acting honors here. Whale does a great job with every single detail from the sets, photography, and unmannered performances that remain fresh today as they were in 1933.

Reviewed by Bunuel1976 7 / 10

BY CANDLELIGHT (James Whale, 1933) ***

This is a well-regarded minor Whale effort which, like REMEMBER LAST NIGHT? (1935) finds him in fine form tackling sophisticated comedy – though it eschews the zaniness which would mark that film; indeed, this is very much in the Lubitsch style and class!

That said, it was criticized for Paul Lukas' central miscasting but I felt he acquitted himself reasonably well under the circumstances. He plays butler to Nils Asther's suave Prince: asked to precede him on a journey, he is mistaken for the real thing when running into charming Elissa Landi (also traveling incognito above her station!) on a train. The two start a hesitant romance, since each is wary of being exposed; the situation is further complicated when the womanizing Asther catches Lukas at his game in his own house. He is willing to play along and assumes the butler's responsibilities, only he has his eyes on Landi too, who in turn is naturally insulted by his impudence! Incidentally, the title is a reference to Asther's recurring trick for seducing the ladies – pretending that the electricity has gone out and having Lukas set up a romantic candle-lit mood (the Prince, then, is happy to oblige his butler during the latter's own affair)!

The mistaken identity ruse (obviously smoothed by the end) has been a staple in the romantic comedy genre, but Whale handles it with tremendous flair and dexterity. Getting back to Lubitsch and his renowned 'touch', we get an ingenious example of it here: Asther is entertaining the opera singer wife of an aristocrat who, breaking into his house, believes he can hear her voice in the next room…but when he steps inside is met with a gramophone playing one of her arias!; still not satisfied, he asks the Prince if he can call her at their home and Asther offers to do it himself – proceeding to connect the phone to a secondary line elsewhere in the house! By the way, what I said about the re-use of sets (and, for that matter, succinctness – since this runs for just 68 minutes) from one film to the other in my review of Whale's THE KISS BEFORE THE MIRROR (1933) applies here as well: both Asther's house and that of Landi's masters were already seen in that very picture (with the all-important mirror, also featured in the director's FRANKENSTEIN [1931], intact)!

Again, though, the print I acquired is far from optimal – being exceedingly soft and once more (briefly) boasting fluctuating audio. With this in mind, a DVD set through Criterion's sister label Eclipse – compiling Whale's most notable non-horror work (given that the company is on good terms with Universal anyway) – would be a veritable treat, especially for somebody not yet familiar with gems such as this one...

Reviewed by AlsExGal 7 / 10

precode Universal was so much more than monster films ...

... and I do not know why the folks at Universal don't do more to get treasures such as these out to the public, at least using the manufactured on demand method that Warner Brothers and MGM/UA are using.

This is one of the sophisticated precodes revolving around a series of mistaken identities and misrepresentations. The basic plot is that Josef (Paul Lukas) is butler to the carousing Prince Alfred von Rommer (Nils Asther). Josef helps the prince whenever he gets in a tight spot with one of his many lady friends - with that tight spot primarily consisting of protests and threats being raised by one of the ladies' husbands popping up unexpectedly. After one such episode the prince decides to take a vacation in Monte Carlo and he sends Josef on ahead with the luggage. On the train Josef notices an attractive young lady (Elissa Landi) and tries to make a play for her himself. He is only modestly successful until the young woman sees Josef's luggage and notices the prince's coat of arms. Now Josef has to pretend to be the prince in order to continue courting the lady. What happens when the real prince arrives? Is the young lady who she seems to be? Will those angry husbands now be after Josef since he has taken the prince's identity? Watch and find out.

The main negative in this film is the casting of Paul Lukas as Josef. This time it is not his accent that is the problem but his age. It is a bit of a stretch to believe that a man in his 40's would have such wide-eyed hero worship for the younger prince and his philandering ways. Nils Asther as the prince gives a charming and effortless performance, behaving genuinely amused at the uncomfortable situations in which he is placed. Like Lukas, Asther also had a heavy accent, and that and a contract dispute pretty much finished his acting career shortly after this film was made.

Highly recommended as one of the great sophisticated precodes, although you probably won't be able to find a good print of it. I know I haven't been able to find one yet.

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