Trouble in Paradise is the movie that was needed for a light afternoon, not The Rapture. Hey ho, that’s what happens when you just look at a basic description. Since it was my pick today, and I am finally not over-indulging in 1930s movies, I am finally getting a chance to see this Pre-Code classic. I have been wanting to see this film for years, but I am so aware of not completely using up a decade I kept putting it off until a better time. I’m feeling sick, so the time is most definitely now.
I mention explicitly that this is a Pre-Code film, a romantic comedy even, because Trouble in Paradise is a film that could not have been made two years later after the introduction of the Hays Code. Just to think, twenty years of cinema history where a great film like this could not be made without any one who has committed any sin not receiving any comeuppance. Sure, there are ways around it but the sins of Trouble in Paradise are what make it fun.
In the end, how on earth are you meant to film a comedy with a couple of romantically entangled and loveable thieves as the main characters without there being any chance of then getting away with it? Like, it isn’t a given that they will, but at least without the Code in place you have a bit of tension. Also, this way you also get the chance of this film being properly sexy outside of wedlock – which makes sense for these characters.
It also helps that the script is excellent, as is the chemistry Herbert Marshall has with both Miriam Hopkins and Kay Francis. One of the first scenes, where both the thieves find each other out and fall in love, is a masterclass in how to do a really different yet funny cinematic meet-cute – especially as they reveal how much they have lifted from each other’s pockets over the course of their dinner date.
Honestly, if more romantic comedies were like Trouble in Paradise then this would have a chance at being one of my favourite genres. It’s smart, it makes you laugh, it has great characters you enjoy watching and it can actually surprise you. There’s one more Ernst Lubitsch film on this list and considering what I have seen of him so far (also including The Shop Around The Corner and To Be or Not to Be) I am so eager to see what Ninotchka ends up being like.