24 December 2010 | boblipton
The Ups and Downs of a Military Career
Billy Wilder, one of the screenwriters of this Ruritanian comic operetta, was an immense admirer of Ernst Lubitsch. Apparently he kept a sign in his office after he wound up in Hollywood that read "What Would Lubitsch Do?". So when I saw this piece with a lot of plot, staging and effects that reminded me immediately of Lubitsch's THE SMILING LIEUTENANT, I wondered who was stealing from whom.
Well, according to the IMDb this came out three months before the Lubitsch film, so if anyone was the thief, it was Ernst and his screenwriters. And they were all probably stealing from elsewhere.
This is a typical Viennese operetta as a beautiful young princess incognito falls in love with a handsome young lieutenant who is passing himself off as a delicatessen clerk. The usual misunderstandings and tiffs occur, and Willy Fritsch and Käthe von Nagy are quite charming and funny, if a bit weak in the singing department. The two lead comedians are good, particularly Reinhold Schünzel, who reminds me of Herman Bing.
In fact, everyone here reminds me of someone else. Herr Fritsch looks a touch like Ray Milland, Fraulein Nagy a bit like Claudette Colbert. Doubtless it's a matter of types, rather than conscious choices -- at this stage Colbert was just another contract starlet at Paramount and Milland was on the boat from Britain to the US. So the net result is that this is pretty much of a muchness.... but a well done muchness. More than good enough.