The Smiling Lieutenant Reviews

  • Jul 23, 2020

    Not much here but the cast is as good as ever.

    Not much here but the cast is as good as ever.

  • Apr 25, 2020

    Chevalier sweet talks his way through this very funny movie. Colbert is good but Hopkins is funnier and (in the last 10 minutes) a lot sexier !

    Chevalier sweet talks his way through this very funny movie. Colbert is good but Hopkins is funnier and (in the last 10 minutes) a lot sexier !

  • Dec 11, 2019

    Whether a light musical released today could become one of the highest grossing films of the year is debatable this movie was a massive hit in 1931 and gave Ernst Lubitsch two Best Picture nominated films in 1932. In a way this film made me sad that we do not see films of this sort produced now as while they are fluffy and completely lacking in substance there are few directors who can handle a wacky romantic comedy like Ernst Lubitsch. I found the film to be enjoyable in spite of it's lack of a real plot because the performers are incredible and all working at the height of their powers and the film allowed me to relax after watching heavy films like Alice Adams (1935) and Dodsworth (1936). In the early 1930s in Vienna, Austria Princess Anna of Flausenthurm, Miriam Hopkins, comes to visit from the neighboring country with her protective father King Adolf XV, George Barbier. While attending a parade she believes that she has received a suggestive smile and wink from Lieutenant Nikolaus "Niki" von Preyn, and this story becomes widely circulated in newspapers. In actuality von Preyn was attempting to flirt with his girlfriend, sexy conductor and violinist Franzi, Claudette Colbert, but accidentally locked eyes with Anna. He is roped into marrying Anna against his will but theirs is an unhappy union as he does not sleep with her and often sneaks off to visit Franzi. He and Franzi enjoy their time together as he hires policemen to ‘arrest' her and then protect them while they spend time together. Anna eventually discovers his secret but when she meets Franzi the latter chooses to mentor her and make her the ideal wife for von Preyn before departing herself to let the couple experience marital bliss. For all of the apparent turmoil that occurred during the production of the film with the rivalry between Colbert and Hopkins, issues with the location and Chevalier's grief making his performance difficult to deliver the film comes off as effortless. The screenplay, written and rewritten by several notable scribes, bounces along at an alarming rate as there seems to be a joke every minute and despite the lack of plot developments there is always something of interest happening on screen. We receive excellent introductions to all of our leading characters as the father-daughter relationship between Anna and Adolf was reminiscent of the relationship between Jean and Colonel Harrington in The Lady Eve (1941). We find ourselves laughing and smiling as these often improbable figures go about their days with entirely un-relatable problems weighing them down. Chevalier's presence is essential to the success of the film as with his cheeky grins and unflappability he is the perfect star for a film of this sort as he immediately assuages any fears that audiences may have over having to interact with real issues in the film. He is not a roguish French charmer like the later Louis Jourdan or Alain Delon and offers a pleasant countenance while playing the type of foreign fool who appeals to American and British audiences who want to feel superior while sharing in his carefree spirit. He is joined by Colbert, just three years before her incredible 1934 in which she starred in Cleopatra (1934), It Happened One Night (1934) and Imitation of Life (1934), who displays all of the feistiness and subtlety that would make her one of the defining leading ladies of her era. Hopkins, who had a penchant for giving hammy performances, gets a role that she can really sink her teeth into as she gets the regality and confusion of her privileged but inexperienced princess to a t. Lubitsch surely had a hand in all this as Chevalier did his best work with him and could fall into irksome tics when in the hands of a less skillful director like Joshua Logan. The whole thing is harmless fun and that is something to be appreciated when so many comedies rely on vulgarity and rude jokes that are disgusting and most importantly not funny. I think that it is important that we look back and appreciate the fact that entertainment like this brought joy to people in a time of suffering and because it is so good natured it is very easy to like.

    Whether a light musical released today could become one of the highest grossing films of the year is debatable this movie was a massive hit in 1931 and gave Ernst Lubitsch two Best Picture nominated films in 1932. In a way this film made me sad that we do not see films of this sort produced now as while they are fluffy and completely lacking in substance there are few directors who can handle a wacky romantic comedy like Ernst Lubitsch. I found the film to be enjoyable in spite of it's lack of a real plot because the performers are incredible and all working at the height of their powers and the film allowed me to relax after watching heavy films like Alice Adams (1935) and Dodsworth (1936). In the early 1930s in Vienna, Austria Princess Anna of Flausenthurm, Miriam Hopkins, comes to visit from the neighboring country with her protective father King Adolf XV, George Barbier. While attending a parade she believes that she has received a suggestive smile and wink from Lieutenant Nikolaus "Niki" von Preyn, and this story becomes widely circulated in newspapers. In actuality von Preyn was attempting to flirt with his girlfriend, sexy conductor and violinist Franzi, Claudette Colbert, but accidentally locked eyes with Anna. He is roped into marrying Anna against his will but theirs is an unhappy union as he does not sleep with her and often sneaks off to visit Franzi. He and Franzi enjoy their time together as he hires policemen to ‘arrest' her and then protect them while they spend time together. Anna eventually discovers his secret but when she meets Franzi the latter chooses to mentor her and make her the ideal wife for von Preyn before departing herself to let the couple experience marital bliss. For all of the apparent turmoil that occurred during the production of the film with the rivalry between Colbert and Hopkins, issues with the location and Chevalier's grief making his performance difficult to deliver the film comes off as effortless. The screenplay, written and rewritten by several notable scribes, bounces along at an alarming rate as there seems to be a joke every minute and despite the lack of plot developments there is always something of interest happening on screen. We receive excellent introductions to all of our leading characters as the father-daughter relationship between Anna and Adolf was reminiscent of the relationship between Jean and Colonel Harrington in The Lady Eve (1941). We find ourselves laughing and smiling as these often improbable figures go about their days with entirely un-relatable problems weighing them down. Chevalier's presence is essential to the success of the film as with his cheeky grins and unflappability he is the perfect star for a film of this sort as he immediately assuages any fears that audiences may have over having to interact with real issues in the film. He is not a roguish French charmer like the later Louis Jourdan or Alain Delon and offers a pleasant countenance while playing the type of foreign fool who appeals to American and British audiences who want to feel superior while sharing in his carefree spirit. He is joined by Colbert, just three years before her incredible 1934 in which she starred in Cleopatra (1934), It Happened One Night (1934) and Imitation of Life (1934), who displays all of the feistiness and subtlety that would make her one of the defining leading ladies of her era. Hopkins, who had a penchant for giving hammy performances, gets a role that she can really sink her teeth into as she gets the regality and confusion of her privileged but inexperienced princess to a t. Lubitsch surely had a hand in all this as Chevalier did his best work with him and could fall into irksome tics when in the hands of a less skillful director like Joshua Logan. The whole thing is harmless fun and that is something to be appreciated when so many comedies rely on vulgarity and rude jokes that are disgusting and most importantly not funny. I think that it is important that we look back and appreciate the fact that entertainment like this brought joy to people in a time of suffering and because it is so good natured it is very easy to like.

  • Oct 15, 2018

    The Smiling Lieutenant is a solid, but very disappointing Lubitsch flick that's far from his best efforts. All of the actors did a great job, but Colbert and Hopkins do not fit as well with Chevalier as Jeanette MacDonald does. The film has its quite intriguing, fun and funny sequences, but it also has some forgettable scenes, a problematic pace and a weak soundtrack. It's another charming film from the director, but an unoriginal, very flawed one.

    The Smiling Lieutenant is a solid, but very disappointing Lubitsch flick that's far from his best efforts. All of the actors did a great job, but Colbert and Hopkins do not fit as well with Chevalier as Jeanette MacDonald does. The film has its quite intriguing, fun and funny sequences, but it also has some forgettable scenes, a problematic pace and a weak soundtrack. It's another charming film from the director, but an unoriginal, very flawed one.

  • Antonius B Super Reviewer
    Mar 31, 2016

    I'll be honest, Claudette Colbert is very cute and she made this movie for me. The plot has a somewhat dippy Maurice Chevalier marrying a Princess (Miriam Hopkins) to avoid an international incident, thus breaking his lover's (Colbert's) heart. When she arranges to meet up with him anyway, she's caught by Hopkins, and after a mutual, (hilariously overwrought) cry, she tells Hopkins (in song) that in order to keep Chevalier, "Jazz Up Your Lingerie". The movie is pre-Code which made scenes like that possible, as well as allude to unmarried sex between Colbert and Chevalier, and Hopkins's desire to consummate her marriage. This naughtiness is also part of the movie's charm. It's interesting that the movie wrong-foots us by having the 'wrong girl' get the man. A big hit in 1931 and nominated by the Academy for Best Picture, it's still very watchable 85 years later.

    I'll be honest, Claudette Colbert is very cute and she made this movie for me. The plot has a somewhat dippy Maurice Chevalier marrying a Princess (Miriam Hopkins) to avoid an international incident, thus breaking his lover's (Colbert's) heart. When she arranges to meet up with him anyway, she's caught by Hopkins, and after a mutual, (hilariously overwrought) cry, she tells Hopkins (in song) that in order to keep Chevalier, "Jazz Up Your Lingerie". The movie is pre-Code which made scenes like that possible, as well as allude to unmarried sex between Colbert and Chevalier, and Hopkins's desire to consummate her marriage. This naughtiness is also part of the movie's charm. It's interesting that the movie wrong-foots us by having the 'wrong girl' get the man. A big hit in 1931 and nominated by the Academy for Best Picture, it's still very watchable 85 years later.

  • Sep 07, 2014

    Not quite up to standards, but still enough of the Lubitsch touch to make it enjoyable.

    Not quite up to standards, but still enough of the Lubitsch touch to make it enjoyable.

  • Avatar
    John B Super Reviewer
    Mar 26, 2014

    I absolutely love Chevalier pictures. They are tremendously silly but they have a riske element to them that is delightful. Colbert and Chevalier have fantastic chemistry.

    I absolutely love Chevalier pictures. They are tremendously silly but they have a riske element to them that is delightful. Colbert and Chevalier have fantastic chemistry.

  • Mar 17, 2014

    Perhaps the best of the Chevalier/Lubitsch musicals, but it still doesn't greatly impress me. As I've said before, I'm just not much of a fan of Chevalier. Colbert is good and Miriam Hopkins is even better, at least.

    Perhaps the best of the Chevalier/Lubitsch musicals, but it still doesn't greatly impress me. As I've said before, I'm just not much of a fan of Chevalier. Colbert is good and Miriam Hopkins is even better, at least.

  • Aj V Super Reviewer
    Sep 25, 2012

    I really enjoyed this movie, it was hilarious. Sure, it's got a pretty normal romance going on, but it is one of those comedies with a lot of mistakes that turn out very funny. The cast is great too, I loved Chevalier and Colbert and Hopkins together as the love triangle. If you like them or just enjoy romantic comedies, I recommend this.

    I really enjoyed this movie, it was hilarious. Sure, it's got a pretty normal romance going on, but it is one of those comedies with a lot of mistakes that turn out very funny. The cast is great too, I loved Chevalier and Colbert and Hopkins together as the love triangle. If you like them or just enjoy romantic comedies, I recommend this.

  • Jul 08, 2012

    Cute with a lot of sexual undertones played off lightly. Loved Chevalier. Enjoyable, funny, although a bit sad.

    Cute with a lot of sexual undertones played off lightly. Loved Chevalier. Enjoyable, funny, although a bit sad.