While in acting school, Ernst Lubitsch does cabaret appearances,
specializing in slapstick comedy. Thereafter, from 1911-1918, he is a
bit part player in the cast of the German Theater (Deutsche
But, already in 1913, he makes his film
Since he is unable to find suitable parts
in the theater, together with friends, he writes a series of one act
plays which he directs and in which he also plays the leading role.
In 1917 Ernst
Lubitsch, with his small staff,
begins working as a director at the newly founded Universum Film AG.
This company soon goes on to become UFA,
movie industry giant.
As of 1918, Skillfully applying to film the
production style that he learned from Max Reinhardt (i.e. large scale
productions with enormous stage sets), Ernst Lubitsch produces the
future film classics: Eyes of the Mummy Mâ (Die
Augen der Mumie Mâ)
followed by Passion
(Madame Dubarry); the latter
in fact becomes Germany's first box office hit in New York and the
Following this success, in 1923 he moves to
Hollywood, producing a series of social comedies whose themes are
largely drawn from European literature. But as a result of the strong
censorship which characterizes Hollywood at the time, he develops his
famous "Lubitsch Touch", a technique based on irony, insinuation, second
degree references and indirect commentary, which goes on to deeply
influence all of America's film comedy.
In 1929, with his first sound film The Love Parade, Ernst
Lubitsch takes the Operetta film genre to new heights. Never done
before, he creates, not a stage production adapted to film, but a true
film operetta artfully exploiting the visual possibilities offered by
this media (special effects, moving cameras, etc.) as well as a true
marriage between image and sound, using music as a sort of satirical
commentary about the image.
Named Head of Production at Paramount in
1935, by 1936 he has his own production group.
Other Lubitsch classics, include:
Greta Garbo, To be or not to be and his final
film in 1943 Heaven can wait.