Director Ernst Lubitsch’s last great work from 1943 (and first film in color), in collaboration with his favorite writer, Samson Raphaelson, is a graceful, charming and captivating ode to marriage, mortality and memory. Underrated Don Ameche, convinced he should go to Hell after a life of philandering, describes his rather benign life to Satan (Laird Cregar), save for his remarkable marriage to the inspired Gene Tierney. It’s a beautiful balance of lightness and melancholy that truly defines “the Lubitsch touch,” where art directors James Basevi and Leland Fuller and cinematographer Edward Cronjager play with color and intensity to help evoke the various moods. Unfortunately, because of rather pale source material, the DVD does not represent the film in its full Technicolor glory. Extras include insightful commentary from husband and wife critics Andrew Sarris and Molly Haskell, and an audio seminar of a ’77 conversation between critic Richard Corliss and Raphaelson.
Written by Bill Desowitz