Music Box Theatre
3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $11
Saturday, January 4 @ 11:30 AM
THE STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERG
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch • 1927
Live organ accompaniment by Dennis Scott
Ernst Lubitsch had already acquitted himself capably in bringing the wit of Oscar Wilde to the screen without the benefit of spoken dialogue in his version of Lady Windermere’s Fan, so why wouldn’t he attempt Sigmund Romberg’s famous operetta The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg without the music? As in Lubitsch’s best work, the perverse constraints of the set-up serve to elevate the emotional stakes and refine the visual grammar. Ramon Novarro stars as Crown Prince Karl Heinrich, a pampered brat whose life only becomes human-sized again when he and his tutor Dr. Jüttner (Jean Hersholt) take in the earthy pleasures of Old Heidelberg. Karl soon falls for Kathi (Norma Shearer), the waitress at a Heidelberg biergarten and a spunky antidote to the foreordained strain of royal responsibility. Budgeted at more than a million dollars, The Student Prince represents M-G-M’s late silent style at its most spendthrift. (Although some footage was shot in Heidelberg, Laurel Canyon was ultimately deemed an adequate substitute.) “Lubitsch took his tongue out of his cheek when he directed this special,” lamented Variety, which oddly held the film’s immaculately realized high romanticism against it. “It’s not farce and it’s not drama. Just a pretty love story of peaches and cream that may have put perfume in the director’s cigars as he supervised.” (KW)
105 min • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer • 35mm from Warner Bros.
Preceded by: “The Leopard’s Spots” (Walter Lantz and Clyde Geronimi, 1925) – 9 min – 16mm