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  • I enjoyed this film far more than anything had led me to anticipate; from reading other comments here, I suspect it benefits enormously from being seen on a full-size screen in the cinema, in the company of a cheerful and enthusiastic audience. I was lucky enough to have that experience, borne up on ripples of laughter from all around, and had an immensely good time with this undemanding comedy.

    For it is as a comedy that it shines, if it shines anywhere at all. The music is nothing special -- in fact, I hadn't realised it *was* a musical, and was very surprised when the assembled ancestors burst into half-spoken lyric -- but I do have to admit that the half-threat, half-promise of 'Oh, what I'll do...' has proved far more catchy than it ever seemed at the time, as it's still going round and round in my head!

    The plot, such as it is, largely pivots around the past history of the eponymous Francesca, a sixteenth-century portrait sporting a distinctly anachronistic hairstyle and fur-coat. Her idea on the sanctity of marriage don't quite jibe with those of her distant descendant, the Countess Angelina, and one can almost hear the storyline creaking at the seams under the strain of the Production Code in order to ensure that the heroine arrives unsullied in her much-delayed marriage-bed with the right man...

    The romance is scarcely earth-shattering, and in fact the first few scenes, played pretty well straight, verge on the tedious. But where script and film really come to life is in the battle of the sexes that follows. The impudence of Douglas Fairbanks Jr's courtship of Betty Grable's married Angelina is equalled only by Betty-Grable-as-Francesca's pursuit of him in turn, culminating in complete role-reversal in the hilarious fantasy sequence where she -- literally -- sweeps him off his feet. This is probably the comic climax of the plot, although the consequences of the Colonel's understandable confusion are worked out with a deft touch in the remaining two 'acts' of the operetta-structure, and the spectacle of Fairbanks' blissful, bemused awakening is more or less worth the price of admission on its own.

    Grable is entirely convincing in establishing her two contrasting characters, wisely gets almost all the (limited) singing opportunities, and shares the honours where the swathes of quotable dialogue in the various verbal duels are concerned. But in the field of unspoken reaction she is really outclassed by her male supporting leads; Fairbanks in particular is an absolute treat in a number of wordless sequences whose set-up and humour is worthy of the silent screen.

    This film is too uneven in style to be a classic, varying from sparkling repartee to hackneyed tedium. But at its best it is quite honestly very funny indeed, and brought a round of spontaneous applause and laughter across the auditorium at the end as the lights went up. Out of tune with its times, it may have failed to draw contemporary audiences -- but, on this showing, really didn't deserve to be disowned by both Grable and Preminger, the (uncredited) director. This is no masterpiece, but a thoroughly entertaining minor work, and I for one found myself grinning in remembrance all the way home.
  • In 1948 this was my all-time favorite movie. Betty Grable's costumes were so ravishing that I wanted to grow up to be her and dress like that. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., was irresistible as the dashing Hungarian officer. Silly and fluffy as this movie might appear at first, when I was eight years old it seemed to me to say something important about relations between men and women. I saw it again the other day; I was surprised to find that it still did.
  • THE LADY IN ERMINE certainly has its moments, but it can't decide if it wants to be a romance or a comedy. Parts of it are very funny indeed and had me laughing out loud, while others seem to fall as flat as a lead balloon.

    Douglas Fairbanks Jr. is handsome and dashing, as usual, providing a much needed surge of energy when he is on screen, but Betty Grable seems uncomfortable in her double role. She's far more enjoyable to watch as the ancestor than she is as the descendant. The opportunity for her to display her most valuable assets (her legs) is limited.

    20th Century Fox has surrounded the two leads with good character actors from its stable, including Cesar Romero showing some versatility, Walter Abel in two roles, and Harry Davenport as the likable old retainer. Reginald Gardiner is wasted as Alberto.

    It's a shame that the songs are so ordinary and mostly forgettable. Was this the best Fox, the studio that brought us STATE FAIR, could do? All in all, you're not missing much if you don't see it, but it's a pleasantly diverting way to pass an hour and thirty minutes.
  • Betty Grable is "That Lady in Ermine" in this 1948 musical, also starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Cesar Romero, Reginald Gardner, and Walter Abel.

    Frankly, it's hard for me to believe that Lubitsch directed this. And in fact, he died eight days into production and the film was finished by Otto Preminger. The story is taken from a 1922 musical, and originally Lubitsch wanted Jeanette MacDonald for the role; Zanuck wanted Gene Tierney; finally Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer were announced, but it didn't happen.

    Grable has a dual role here, as Angelina in 1861 and her ancestor Francesca, from 1561, whose portrait hangs in the great hall. Angelina has just been married to Count Mario, who, as soon as they get into her quarters, is called to action against Hungarian invaders. The Hungarians also invaded 300 years ago, and Francesca was able to save the castle. Can her ancestor do it again, in spite of feeling attracted to the handsome colonel (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.)? The film takes us into the past and back into the present, and it's a lush, gorgeous production. Grable's gowns are exquisite, and she looks gorgeous. Someone here noted she was past her prime (at the ripe old age of 31) and a little plump. She sure didn't look it to me, she looks fantastic. The color in the film is eye-popping as well.

    There is really no music to speak of, except for a couple of songs that are continually repeated. There are some funny bits, and it's a fine cast. The ancestors step out of their portraits and come to life, and at one point, Fairbanks is dubbed and sings gloriously in an operatic tenor voice. Fairbanks is wonderful; Grable is perhaps a little too vanilla for the role, but she gives the role a youthful energy. Other than Tierney, the other stars, who were legit sopranos, were a bit older. The story, what there was of it, really needed the lightness Grable gave it.

    See it for incredible color and costumes and a fine cast. The music and the story aren't of much consequence - it's nice postwar fluff.
  • If you have the opportunity to catch this one on TV (It's in American Movie Classic's library, I believe, and doesn't appear to be available on video.) and you're a fan of Ernst Lubitsch, don't expect much evidence of his famous "Touch." Herr Lubitsch died before completing very much of this production and the directing reigns were turned over to Otto Preminger. Apparently the studio felt that an artist whose ancestral origins shared to some degree those of Mr. Lubitsch was the proper person to complete this project. My own impression of the final results makes the passing of the talented Mr. Lubitsch a great misfortune for all concerned. As I watched it on a TV broadcast several years ago I stared in amazement at what seemed an extraordinarily clumsy and heavy-handed attempt to tell what is, essentially, a fairy story for adults. There are definitely elements to enjoy and Betty Grable is, as always, appealingly lovely in Technicolor and has a lively and natural presence as an actress. But Mr. Preminger's reputation, without later critically praised films, such as "Anatomy of a Murder," was not greatly enhanced by the final cut of this film.
  • I really enjoyed this Lubitsch movie with Betty Grable. It made quite a change from her usual "musicals", and I cannot again understand why there have been no videos or DVDs made of it. Younger viewers who don't even know who Betty Grable is will surely appreciate this Lubitsch movie. Here's hoping!
  • Watching That Lady In Ermine I was wondering what Betty Grable was doing in a project that seemed to be aimed for Marlene Dietrich to do. Someone over at 20th Century Fox may have decided one sex symbol is as good as another. Darryl F. Zanuck should have known better.

    Betty plays a 19th century Italian countess whose domain has been invaded by a troop of Hungarian Hussars captained by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Her ghostly ancestor whose portrait hangs in the palace hall along with the rest of her distinguished family tree, sees no small resemblance in Doug now and another invader some 300 years earlier whom she dealt with when armies failed.

    Besides that the current Betty has just been married to Cesar Romero and the invasion has come at a most inopportune moment, before things have been consummated. That's going to give anyone a bad attitude, I guarantee.

    Fresh, wholesome all American Betty is NOT the actress to do seductive and mysterious. Marlene Dietrich might have put this over, but with Betty it falls flatter than yesterday's presidential candidate. She and Fairbanks have no chemistry at all, though Doug is as charming as ever and someone I can watch in anything.

    Frederick Hollander and Leo Robin wrote the score for this film and This Is The Moment got an Oscar nomination for Best Song. That Lady In Ermine's one chance for Oscar glory fell to Buttons And Bows.

    Ernest Lubitsch died midway during the film and Otto Preminger finished That Lady In Ermine. I can't believe Lubitsch had Grable in mind for the lead here. Neither will you if you see That Lady In Ermine.
  • mart-4511 February 2007
    Can I be as simple and primitive in my evaluations as to simply say "I liked it"? It's reasonably funny by bits, it got great stars and it's gorgeous to look at. The songs (there are about two which are then repeated) are forgettable, but they get a healthy ironic treatment (such as the terribly handsome Mr Fairbanks exploding into frenzied Wagnerian version of the tender ballad Miss Grable has just rendered); there isn't much dancing with all the 1861 crinolines draped around Miss Grable, and the comedy might be a bit heavy handed, but the result still is very uplifting. The photography (including real outdoor shots which are a thrill) is amazing, playing around with different shades of lush heavy gold. Miss Grable is a bit past her prime and on the plumpish side, but still fresh and comfortable in this continental "olde worlde" comedy. It's pretty much along the line of "Down to Earth" with Rita Hayworth, and that one tends to be rather disliked by many. So I suppose several people would deem "That Lady in Ermine" to be outdated and stuffy. But it's a fairy tale, and these tend to move along at a certain paste anyhow. My suggestion is - just enjoy the artwork, the costumes, the witty script and everything else this film has to offer, and stop complaining. The film has been released on DVD in Germany, with both German and English soundtrack.
  • Let me start out by saying that I used to really like Betty Grable, particularly from "Down Argentine Way", but by the time she got around to this disaster, she had also got "round" and frankly the whole film was an embarrassment. Costarred with Douglas Fairbanks JNr (who must have been fairly desperate) the story was bad, the colours good, and the film far too long. It had some of the old standbys in it like Harry Davenport and Reginald Gardiner to try and stimulate interest but with no success. The music score was woeful, and I have to say not one tune was memorable in any I was such a fan of Miss Grable, I always wish I had never seen this one!
  • The final film for Ernst Lubitsch, completed by Otto Preminger after Lubitsch's untimely death during production, is a juggling act of sophistication and silliness, romance and music, fantasy and costume dramatics. In a 19th century castle in Southeastern Europe, a Countess falls for her sworn enemy, the leader of the Hungarian revolt; she's aided by her ancestor, whose painted image magically comes to life. Betty Grable, in a long blonde wig adorned with flowers, has never been more beautiful, and her songs are very pleasant. Unfortunately, this script (by Samson Raphaelson, taken from an operetta by Rudolf Schanzer and E. Welisch) is awash with different ideas that fail to mesh--or entertain. The results are good-looking, but unabsorbing. *1/2 from ****
  • While the credits say that this is an Ernst Lubitsch film, he actually died during the making of this film. Otto Preminger completed the film and I don't know whether he's to blame, Lubitsch is or both of them. Regardless, it's a very poor film...and the film that Betty Grable hated the most. It also is a movie that lost a ton of money at the box office....and after seeing the picture, I can understand why. The story is just a muddled mess.

    The story is set in the mid-19th century and a Contessa Angelina (Grable) just married handsome Count Mario (Cesar Romero). However, the Hungarians invade her Italian state and Mario is forced to flee. The leader of the Hungarians is the Colonel (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) and he's instantly smitten with her. Oddly, while the Contessa cannot reciprocate, a painting of a distant relative who JUST HAPPENS TO LOOK EXACTLY LIKE HER (a stupid cliché, I know) falls for him and comes out of the painting to pitch woo to the Colonel. There's more to this goofy film than this...but isn't that dopey enough to let you know why this movie is a mess?!

    Although the film looks great with its lovely color and sets, the story often is very dopey and makes no sense. It all just seems like a silly excuse to sing and dance. And, the overall film is a tad embarrassing at I can understand Grable's feelings about this one!
  • yvescouvert11 November 2006
    Lubitsch's last production but not his least interesting film. Somehow largely ignored by critics as he couldn't finish it himself and as the movie wasn't co-signed by Preminger who he did most of the staging... A very strange mix of musical (a remembrance of The Merry Widow ?)and classic Lubitsch touch sentimentalism (an impossible love-story like Cluny Brown)yet a very clever and intelligent one yet not to be understood as some nostalgia of some lost world but rather a testament on eternal feelings prevailing on the foolishness of mankind and especially men in times of war with a "moral" lesson still true today as it was in 1948. Billy wilder as an answer to Preminger who grieved at Lubitsch's funerals about having lost a great man replied that we still had his films and that sums it all up about that Lady in Ermine...
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There is a reason this is a rarely seen Betty Grable movie. It is not a typical Betty Grable movie.

    While it is a beautifully filmed technicolor movie, it is NOT a Musical. Though, it does have a few very brief spoken word songs by Grable.

    I suspect that Fox was trying to broaden Grable's appeal. They tried to give her something which would showcase her "acting abilities". Grable was a very talented entertainer - but she was NOT an accomplished actress. No movie more clearly shows this than "That Lady in Ermine".

    In fairness, I doubt that anyone could have made a success out of this muddled mess of a plot. It is a preposterous mess with gaping plot holes large enough for the Hungarian cavalry to ride through.

    The movie is set in 1860, in a small European principality called Bergamo. Betty is the current head of State. On her wedding night her country is invaded by the Hungarians led by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Yes, Fairbanks is called upon to play the part of a Hungarian... with absolutely no touch of Hungarian accent. In an ironic twist of fate, Fairbanks falls immediately in love with a photo of Grable's Grandmother. And, then the movie starts to get ridiculous.

    The movie is still worth watching - if you are prepared for it to make absolutely no sense at all.
  • lowkus28 February 2012
    This movie is a fun low-pressure comedy. It uses dry wit... people who can't process that type of humor might not enjoy the movie as much. The costumes are lavish, the colors are vivid, and Betty Grable looks hot as always.

    To see an interesting breech of continuity, watch Betty Grable's high-heels change into completely different shoes midway through her dance (roughly 1:01 into the movie). It was likely intended to protect her from injury during the acrobatic moves, but it is surprising that so little effort went into matching the alternate shoes with the originals.
  • rhole22 September 2018
    There are a couple of okay jokes, and some of the sets and costumes are pretty. But the dialogue is bad overall, the musical numbers are awful and very anachronistic. Fairbanks' dubbed voice is far beyond belief.

    He also hardly looks the part of a handsome Colonel.

    On the whole, you might bear it once, just to be a completist. But it's rather too silly for words.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This miserable film is a remake of a 1927 film. They should have let it remain that way.

    What a colossal bomb! Douglas Fairbanks displays absolutely no charisma here. Cesar Romero is subjected to a role as a real jerk and Bette Grable sings with a chorus- What I'll Do to that Hungarian!

    The ridiculous plot deals with a picture of a woman in a castle in 1561 Rome that saved the day by killing a conqueror. (Fairbanks) Now, let's fast forward to 300 years later, where Grable, just married to the Count Romero, faces a similar situation, when on her wedding night, there is an invasion by Hungarian soldiers.

    Romero acts cowardly and flees before the army arrives. He disguises himself as a gypsy and is made to remain at the castle when his violin playing pleases Fairbanks. The ending is worse than the entire wretched film when Grable meets Fairbanks to tell him the good news-an enraged Romero has annulled the marriage.

    This poor imitation of a movie was made in 1948. As Harry Davenport, a veteran supporting player who is in it, died in 1949; this must have been his last film. What a bomb to go out with after such a distinguished career.

    Walter Abel co-stars but he can do little with such poor writing. The costumes look more like those that would come out of the stone age. I can't fathom what Fairbanks was wearing.
  • Watched 'That Lady in Ermine' as an admirer of both Otto Preminger and Ernst Lubitsch and as a fan of classic-era film. It is hard to go wrong too with performers such as Betty Grable, Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Caesar Romero on their own and just as big a delight seeing those names in the same film and there was an intriguing story and ideas here.

    Ideas that could have been executed much better on the whole. 'That Lady in Ermine' is far from a bad film and there is a good deal to like, but it is very uneven, quite strange and doesn't really come together as an overall whole. While the talent and potential are not completely squandered they are nowhere near close to being fulfilled, all have done much better and deserved better.

    Starting with the good things, 'That Lady in Ermine' does look great. It is very lavishly produced and shot in beautiful, vibrant Technicolor. The music is pleasant and charming regardless of its lack of memorability. There are elements of the Lubitsch touch, where there is sparkling wit, sophistication and charm and where the film has more energy.

    Despite her later considering 'That Lady in Ermine' her least favourite film of her career, Betty Grable is spunky and charming, it is not a typical role for her but her approach to it is distinctively so. Romero and especially Fairbanks are immensely likeable in their roles and Walter Abel, Harry Davenport and Reginald Gardiner entertain in support.

    However, the story is both slight, plot-less often, and overly silly, with a lot of ideas not done anywhere near much with and too many elements that don't gel together. The script is uneven, sometimes witty and at other times clunky and the pace is a mix of just fine to dull in other stretches. The final act is somewhat heavy-handed which jars with a good deal of the rest of the film.

    As has been said, this was Lubitsch's last film and mostly his but he sadly died of a heart attack aged 55 during filming and the film was completed by Preminger. Some may say that the transition from one to the other was seamless, personally do not agree with this. The two had very different directing styles to each other and approached their films differently, Lubitsch's films were light, sophisticated and witty while Preminger's were heavier and some exploring darker and ahead of the time themes and subjects, both as great and absorbing as each other in their own way. Both styles can be seen here and don't gel together, with Lubitsch's style being more successful in his own distinctive way and far more enthusiastic while Preminger's was heavy-handed and coarse which is where the film is less interesting.

    Overall, uneven but oddly interesting and watchable. 5/10 Bethany Cox
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A farcical fantasy musical, despite the fact that a number of songs were deleted in the final cut. Although Lubitsch alone was given official credit as the director, in fact, he died part way through filming, being replaced by the quite different Otto Preminger. Preminger has taken a lot of heat for the deficiencies of the film, which many believe would have largely been avoided if Lubitsch could have finished it. Nonetheless, it still offers sumptuous gowns and surroundings, especially when Betty Grable is in the spotlight. Betty stated this was her least favorite film she did. But, I say she shouldn't be ashamed of her part, nor of the film as a whole......Some of you may be turned off by the fantasy of wall portraits of ancestors coming alive around midnight, and cavorting through the castle. This aspect somewhat reminds me of a rather similar plot device used in "I Married a Witch" and the later musical "Brigadoon". Both these other films featured people or ghosts who had lived some centuries before suddenly reappearing. The one was well received by contemporary audiences, while the other, like the present film, was not. My impression is that, today, the present film enjoys a greater regard by many viewers. It's currently available on DVD and free at YouTube. I saw it on FXM...... Betty plays both her current self, as Countess Angelica, of mythical Bergami, in SE Europe, as well as Francesca: her look-alike distant ancestor of 300 years ago, and whose portrait hangs in the main hallway of the castle. Around midnight, Francesca and the other portrait ancestors may become animated and descend to the floor, where they may frolic with each other. Since Angelina and Francesca look the same, except perhaps their clothes, one has to keep on their toes to make sure which they are currently looking at, or whether it's Angelica in a dream by Hungarian Colonel Teglash(Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) I'm still not certain about some cases......Of the several songs "Ooh! What I'll do to that Wild Hungarian" is good, and is sung by Francesca(or is it Angelina) near the beginning , and again at the finale, accompanied by dancing by the portrait ancestors. At one point , Francesca(I assume) sings "The Melody Has to be Right" to a sleeping Angelina(I assume). At the climax when Angelina and Col. Teglash are cementing their love for each other, they sing and dance to the Academy Award nominee; "This is the Moment", which is quite charming.......Cesar Romero has the role of Angelina's temporary husband(to be annulled). As usual, in the end, he winds up the loser in the romance department despite being quite handsome, probably dictated by his Latino heritage. Walter Abel is second in command, under Teglash or the Duke(the latter 300 years ago)., who bosses him around.
  • Lubitsch's last film - completed by an inept Preminger - is a remake of BRIDE OF THE REGIMENT _ a 1930 all two -strip Technicolor film, starring Walter Pidgeon, Vivienne Segal and Myrna Loy - which is now lost - although the Vitaphone disc soundtrack survives at UCLA.

    This was in turn derived from a stage musical entitled THE LADY IN ERMINE by Lonsdale and Wood, adapted from an operetta, DIE FRAU IM HERMELIN by Schanzer and Welisch.

    It drags badly and Grable is as inept as Fairbanks is fabulous, doing all the work here, full of life and vitality, taking the Lubitsch direction perfectly. It is tired Lubitsch and rather dull and boring during most of its length, although it perks up occasionally.

    Interesting more as an artifact than a film.
  • This was Ernst Lubitsch's last film, and the tragedy of it was that he died on the way of heart failure at only 55, so Otto Preminger had to complete it. This provides a clash in style between the two Viennese masters, which the film suffers from. It was intended as a spiritual and sparkling comedy, but it gets a bit heavy on the way under Preminger's probably reluctant direction. The main assets of the film is the brilliant and very original script, the splendid colours and costumes, making the film visual fireworks all the way, and Betty Grable is surprsingly good in a character totally out of her usual parade. Douglas Fairbanks Jr is always a dashing expert, and all the others contribute also well to the show, while the prize goes to the imagination of the plot - it transcends history, as it makes the 16th century play an important part by intervening in the 19th century, so it's a play using different historical dimensions to compliment each other. The music is also splendid, and here you notice the real Viennese spirit of the film. Although you might have some objections to some silliness and other flimsy ingredients, you simply must be impressed by the final dancing scene when they break the ceiling. The main Lubitsch spirit of great comedy and humour shines through after all and survives even Otto Preminger's heavyweight in handling the material.