It GIVES WOMEN NEW IDEAS in LOVE!
Miriam Hopkins got the part of free-spirited Gilda in Ernst Lubitsch’s Design for Living 1933. A Pre-Code romantic comedy with suggestive dialogue and superb comedic timing. Based on Noël Coward’s play that breaks social moral standards and flirts with sexual taboos, sexually empowered women and features a Ménage à Trois between the three Bohemian lovebirds in Paris of the decadent thirties. The film stars Gary Cooper as artist George Cooper, and Fredric March as screenwriter Tom Chambers. The liberated Gilda becomes the girl both men fall in love with.
Ben Hecht’s screenplay and Ernst Lubitsch known for his sophisticated style, directed memorably witty interactions between all four players. Edward Everett Horton as Max Plunkett plays Miriam’s bland suitor, the soon-to-be husband. Horton is, as usual, a whimsical idiosyncratic delight to watch.
Max Plunkett: “I’ve come here to speak to you man to man.”
Tom Chambers: “My favorite type of conversation.”
Max Plunkett: “I wish to broach a rather delicate subject.”
Tom Chambers: “Oh, now don’t let’s be delicate, Mr. Plunkett. Let’s be crude and objectionable, both of us. One of the greatest handicaps of civilization, and I may say to progress, is the fact that people speak with ribbons on their tongues. Delicacy, as the philosophers point out, is the banana peel under the feet of truth.”
Gilda Farrell: “A thing happened to me that usually happens to men. You see, a man can meet two, three, or four women and fall in love with all of them, and then, by a process of interesting elimination, he is able to decide which he prefers. But a woman must decide purely on instinct, guesswork, if she wants to be considered nice. Oh, it’s quite all right for her to try on a hundred hats before she picks on out.
Tom Chambers: “Very fine. But, which chapeau do you want, Madam?”
Gilda Farrell: “Both.”
Gilda Farrell: Max, have you ever been in love?
Max Plunkett: This is no time to answer that.
Gilda: Have you ever felt your brain catch fire? And a curious grateful thing goes through your body? Down, down to your very toes, and leave you with your ears ringing?
Max: “That’s abnormal”
Gilda: Well, that’s how I felt just before you came in.
Max: Yeah? How’d you feel yesterday after your promenade with Tom?
Gilda: Just the opposite. It started in my toes, and came up, up, up very slowly till my brain caught fire. But the ringing in the ears was the same.