Billy Wilder, director of such diverse and wonderful films that to begin to list them is to agonize over your exclusions, had a sign in his office that said “What would Lubitsch do?”
Ernst Lubistch made movies that sparkled, with wit and sophistication that has not been matched since.
Lubitsch’s 1932 film Trouble in Paradise was released before the Production Code acquired the power to prevent ‘immoral’ movies from being shown. Crime pays. People who are not married have a great deal of fun together. The screening of such delights was considered dangerous. Trouble in Paradise was unavailable for years, and never released on VHS.
Sometimes it seems to me that the Production Code changed our view of the past, that this board of censors determined not only the morality of what was on American screens, but also the way that we would see their times. The past becomes a foreign country where good was good, bad was bad, and human beings were somehow not so human.
I’ve made a list of Effervescent Pre-Code Movies in our new catalog. For me these movies break down the barrier between us and the past, showing that our great-grandparents had desires and foibles that were just like our own. And that they were very funny and had great gams.