Trouble In Paradise (1932)


 Cheekiness in Dirtyville more like
Cheekiness in Dirtyville more like

Genre: Crime Romance Comedy

Starring: Herbert Marshall (Murder! • Angel Face), Kay Francis

Directed By: Ernst Lubitsch (Ninotchka • To Be or Not to Be)

Overview: A couple of crooks, including the famous thief Gaston Monescu, plan their next big score. They set their sights on casing Madame Mariette Colet's joint, wealthy owner of the Colet perfume company.

For those of you who don't know about the Hays Code, it was the set of censorship rules that came out in Hollywood in 1930. By 1934, the Hays Code was being rigidly enforced and Hollywood's films were, from that point on, officially made for the sake of entertainment only. As such, they couldn't show nudity or criminal processes, they couldn't be vulgar or tawdry, and anytime anyone committed an illegal act, they had to suffer for it. Sorry to spoiler every single Hollywood Film Noir that exists. Blame Will H. Hays. Trouble in Paradise, which came out just before the Hays Code started cracking down, is without a doubt the most immoral, the sleaziest and abhorrently gratuitous film I've ever seen from the 1930s - and boy is it every awesome!

We open with a regal couple, enjoying their magical night in a hotel room in Venice. In the lobby, a gentleman has just had his wallet, complete with 20,000 lira ($13,000 US by my calculations), stolen. Upstairs the regal couple toy seductively about how the other is the thief in question. When they each learn that the other is correct in their accusations, they embark on a trip to their next cash-in, targeting the lovely Mariette Colet, a woman seemingly richer than God, especially during this Great Depression. Gaston's plan is to charm the pants off the dame so completely that she hires him on as her secretary and trusted advisor, including allowing him to handle her finances. Pulling this off with great ease, the first thing he does is order the safe be filled with cash. All he has to do is wait for the next wave of bills to be deposited in a couple weeks, then make a sizeable withdrawal.

What makes Trouble in Paradise so different, so downright cheeky, is how bold these characters are. Gaston Monescu is our resplendent hero, and in no way a Noir-style, dark-clouded ill-fated one. He's slick and popular, he's a charmer and everything points to his ultimate success. His fly-by-night, super fun flapper girlfriend is fun, carefree and fun. The only wrench that might interfere with their electric lifestyle is Madame Mariette Colet herself, because she offers something to Gaston that no film made after 1934 would ever do: her own sweaty body. Hot sex. Yep. Not some idealized romance and love and promise of marriage. Just plain old Get-Down-Make-Love humpy time. The trouble in Gaston's paradise is that big, fat, juicy forbidden apple that Mariette has down below. When the Hays Code brought the hammer down, Trouble In Paradise just up and disappeared for decades. Well it's back. Check it out. Pure sin as its own reward is pretty tempting. Oh, and if you can't tell from the posters, his partner Lily has an idea about what's going on, and doesn't look too impressed.

Honestly, I'm surprised they didn't suggest a threesome.
Honestly, I'm surprised they didn't suggest a threesome.

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 7 Script: 8 Plot: 7 Mood: 7

Overall Rating: 74% (No Trouble At All, Sir)

I will admit, kiddies, it will take a good long time for modern audiences to get into Trouble In ParadiseIt doesn't really suck one in until our hero plans the robbery of Mariette Colet in the second act. The elegant costumes and high society slant that the movie starts with certainly does a good job of defining itself as dated and different from an audience 80 years later, but once the story picks up, it's quite racy, choosing to run wild in a way you’d never expect it to.

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Trouble in Paradise is a pure pleasure! I love that movie from start to finish!Lubitsch is one of the greatest directors of all time and I consider him as talented as Howard Hawks.

The Pre-Code era has given so many great films like Design For Living for example...

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