I hadn’t planned on this being the next one I viewed, but after Lubitsch’s previous film I had the strong inclination to get this out of the way sooner than later. As it turned out, ‘sooner’ would end up meaning today instead of one of the days before, so maybe I have been putting this off inadvertently. One Hour with You once again stars Maurice Chevalier, and re-teams him again with Jeanette MacDonald, so my hopes for this one were elevated slightly due to the pairing of the main stars. Sure, The Love Parade was largely extraneous fun, but it was fun nonetheless, so the two leads together again, along with the “assistance” of George Cukor in the directing department, made for raised expectations, even despite my concerns after my last Lubitsch film. Turns out, I needn’t have worried as much as I did about disliking it as much as the last one.
This time, Chevalier is Dr. Andre Bertier, who is lovingly married to his wife Colette, played by Jeanette MacDonald. So, if the two leads are already in love and married, then what’s to be done for the film’s plot? Clearly, since this is a pre-Code film, we’re going to be dealing with potential flirting/seduction shenanigans, this time from Colette’s old friend Mitzi, who sets her sights on the doctor for dubious and unclear reasons. Whether the doctor remains faithful despite Mitzi’s advances remains to be seen by anyone who would take the opportunity to watch this film and find out; of course, there’s more to it all than it would seem. If you’re getting flashbacks to the coyness of my previous Lubitsch review, the only thing I can say is; this is to be expected, considering how the man would seem to be making the same film over and over during this period of Hollywood cinema. As I said in the Smiling Lieutenant review, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t; it didn’t then, and for whatever reason that I still cannot ascertain fully, it did this time. Maybe it was that the film was shorter; maybe because Lubitsch basically took over the film from George Cukor, who both had equal involvement and both demanded sole credit, so maybe Lubitsch’s famous touch was diluted somewhat with this one; whatever the reason, I didn’t mind sitting through this one, which is more than I can say for my last Lubitsch. Chevalier didn’t ham it up for the camera nearly as much, the direction wasn’t as heavy-handed, and the chemistry between the leads was actually there, instead of manufactured. Even the parts where Chevalier speaks directly to the camera, that I could tell were directly from Lubitsch, didn’t seem as forced as before, and believe it or not, I actually chuckled at quite a few of the gags.
Sure, it’s technically a pre-Code musical, and there are just such of those kinds of films all over this era of Hollywood, but I didn’t hate this, and that was enough of a win for me. Sure, I still can’t tell you why I didn’t hate this and why I didn’t like the other Lubitsch film I saw the other week, and that still frustrates me, especially since I have to try and write about it in both films’ reviews, but I’m just happy I was able to get through this one without constantly wishing it were over already. Now, on the other hand, I’d be plenty happy if I didn’t have to sit through yet another of these kind of films in this Oscar escapade of mine, but at least I won’t be as sullen-minded about it should another one pop up in the next few years or so, so I’m thankful for that.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10