Design for Living - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Design for Living Reviews

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January 27, 2016
This is an amusing comedy from Ernst Lubitsch with Gary Cooper and Frederich March based on a Noel Coward play. It's pretty risque for 1933. Worth checking out for classic movie lovers.
½ December 16, 2015
The Lubitsch touch was a certain wink-wink naughtiness put forth in a sublime comic way that kept things elegant rather than crass or raunchy. Or at least that's my interpretation. Here, Gary Cooper and Frederic March are best friends, a painter and a playwright, who fall in love with Miriam Hopkins. However, she can't decide which she prefers and instead they decide to live together as a threesome - but no sex allowed. Of course, this doesn't quite work out (or does it?). Edward Everett Horton is the fuddy-duddy foil to the merry three -- although somehow he is less funny than in the Astaire/Rogers films. In fact, the whole package is somewhat less delicious than other Lubitsch hits (Trouble in Paradise, The Shop Around the Corner, Ninotchka, Heaven Can Wait, To Be or Not To Be) - this may be a result of the screenwriter, Ben Hecht, who excelled in a different kind of comedy (His Girl Friday, Nothing Sacred, Twentieth Century). Nevertheless, Design for Living crosses many lines in its review of the plausibility of the menage a trois (something the censor would never allow a few years later) and it has a distinct feminist flair with Hopkins definitely in control. Not quite a revelation but never less than enjoyable.
October 20, 2014
As I was watching "Branded to Kill" I was shocked. I could not believe they were getting away with this kind of subject matter in 1933. The film was way ahead of its time... I mean if this movie came out today there is a good chance it would be rated R, with all of the sexual innuendoes. Don't misunderstand me the movie is great. I highly recommend it. Just know what your getting into and enjoy the movie. Also, if you are a film buff like me, read up on how the movie got past the censors of the time.
March 24, 2014
another romantic triangle given lubitsch treatment though based on a noel coward play little of his dialog made it 2 the screen.
February 25, 2014
Funny, surprising and sophisticated. Even if the characters lack some depth and complexity, the chemistry between the lead actors is undeniable, and the dialogues are witty and clever. Very enjoyable.
Super Reviewer
May 28, 2013
Noel Coward's subversive (and persistent) dream longing for the halycon days of the court of Caligula's nightly entertainment is toned down slightly by writer Ben Hecht and impresario director Ernst Lubitsch into a coy consideration for the free love movement ... in 1933, no less. The principals are charming, all professing love for the Bohemian experience while desperately trying to leave it behind.
December 16, 2012
Movies like that if it were made today would have a lot of stupid music and too many shots of the city surrounding the characters of the film you know? They all meet so quickly. I enjoyed that. Today you would need corny lines. telephone rings and bells before the characters meet. I know it sounds like i dont know what im talking about. well i dont. It's hard to review old movies objectively or whatever. I really like mariam hopkins. She was adorable. But a little stuck up. March & Cooper i thought i gotta see more of their movies. Cooper is such a little boy in a giant mans body. It's interesting to see romance and flirting and sex and all that in those times. Ok heres my point. In the middle of the movie they have this pact "no sex" and that was that no montages or silly music. If it were made today it'd be all about 3 people..i dont know im gonna go have dinner.
½ December 3, 2012
I too love Miriam Hopkins in Lubitsch's films. But what a strange muse/critic who gets her artist-lovers to (successfully) make art to please/amuse the philistine (and rich!) bourgeoisie. So, a confused attitude about the relation between art and commerce/economy, between the bohemian and the bourgeoisie: it wants to believe that they're at least sort of antithetical or independent, but really it knows otherwise.
August 5, 2012
Boy, that's risky stuff there.
April 12, 2012
Funny, romantic, and engaging. Proof that romantic comedies used to be both.
½ February 22, 2012
Sorely needs a better music track but very racy for its day.
February 21, 2012
Frigjort, fyndigt och fantastiskt. Slår Jules och Jim på varje finger.
February 6, 2012
Comà (C)dia sobre um triângulo amoroso demora algum tempo a aquecer, mas, assim que descola, à (C) um festival de "lines" absolutamente memoráveis e palco para uma trama sexual muito à frente do seu tempo, em 1933. Custa atà (C) acreditar que um filme desse tempo seja muito mais sofisticado do que um monte de contemporâneos, no que tem a dizer sobre como os homens e as mulheres se relacionam. Clássico de alto valor acrescido pelo micro-crush com que fiquei Miriam Hopkins. 4/5
January 27, 2012
Fantastic precode comedy. It manages to be really dirty without actually saying anything. Something that is super rare for a 1930's film. Young Gary Cooper is good, and I couldn't help but love Miriam Hopkins. Its just a unique film for the time period and actually holds up really well today.
½ January 4, 2012
3.5: It's a bit difficult to imagine a better pairing than Noel Coward and Ernst Lubitsch. They both had a rather magical touch. I suppose if one were to throw Cole Porter into the mix you'd have a dream team of wit, charm, elegance, and grace - minus the right leading lady of course. Miriam Hopkins is excellent though, as are Cooper and March. They make a wonderful love triangle, even if it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, but I think this is kind of the point. It is supremely entertaining, even if I did wish the production values and travel budget had been a bit higher. Imagine how much better it'd be if it looked more like An Affair to Remember.
½ January 1, 2012
Surprisingly funny and ribald for its time, this tale of the perils of a ménage a trois had me smiling throughout. Laugh out loud at times
½ December 20, 2011
No sex? Come on, it's Gary Cooper, Frederic March and Miriam Hopkins, all very nubile. I think they were just deluding themselves because as soon as one of the boys was out of the way, wham!! It does make me wonder, though, with risque stuff like this in 1933 what would have happened if Joseph Breen wouldn't have gone all Catholic on Hollywood's ass. Would we have been able to see Humphrey Bogart in the buff???
Super Reviewer
December 9, 2011
"Design for Living" since It's inception has been dubbed a critical failure due to the time and Ernst Lubitsch changing all the original dialogue, save one line. Even though the film was made in 1933, it was very open and expressive in its sexual themes but in a way that it got around the censors. A mere few years later however, it didn't meet the guidelines on the censors and disappeared for quite some time. The film revolves around a sexually free woman and her trials involving two handsome men (played wonderfully by Fredric March and Gary Cooper) that she meets on a train. The two men fall for Gilda Farrell (played by a lovely and beautiful Miriam Hopkins) and she starts relationships with both. They quickly discover each others involvement with Gilda and jealously arises causing Gilda to leave both men for Mr. Plunkett with whom she marries. In the end both men come to terms that the three can work out their complicated relationship and all remain together. The miserable Gilda is saved from her misery by the two men and Mr. Pluckett agrees to a divorce (He's eluded to as being gay although it is never declared). The film pushed the boundaries and censors and that's to be respected in my opinion and the film is a fun and witty watch with hidden meanings to avoid censorship. Recommend!
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