Directors like Rob Marshall, Bill Condon, Adam Shankman and Tim Burton might be the latest filmmakers to craft engaging cinematic musicals, but, back when sound was new to the art form, it was German emigre director Ernst Lubitsch whose breezy, clever style and sophisticated story lines redefined the genre.
After making a name for himself in silent cinema in Europe and Hollywood, Lubitsch brought his unique vision to the musical. His first sound film, 1929's "The Love Parade," also was the first movie musical that integrated songs within the story, and, over the next three years, he would direct three more glorious, sexy, bawdy musical comedies -- 1930's "Monte Carlo," 1931's "The Smiling Lieutenant" and 1932's "One Hour With You" -- before the Hays production code took effect in 1934.
But trying to see these films has been next to impossible. Finally, the four will make their DVD debut Tuesday via Criterion's Eclipse line, and nearly 80 years after their initial release, these gems are just as exhilarating as they were back during the infancy of sound.
"The Love Parade" earned six Oscar nominations, including best picture and lead actor for Maurice Chevalier, who stars in three of the films in the collection and here plays Count Alfred Renard, a womanizing military attache who finds himself marginalized after he weds Jeanette MacDonald's queen.