Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)


This week’s mystery movie has been the 1931 Paramount film “The Smiling Lieutenant,” with Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, Charlie Ruggles, Miriam Hopkins, George Barbier and Hugh O’Connell. The film was directed by Ernst Lubitsch, written by Ernest Vajda and Samson Raphaelson, based on “The Waltz Dream” by Leopold Jacobson and Felix Dormann, and the novel “Nux Der Prinzgemahl” by Hans Muller, with music by Oscar Straus, lyrics by Clifford Grey and photography by George Folsey. It was preserved by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

It is available on DVD for $47.96 in the four-disc box set from the Criterion Collection: “Lubitsch Musicals” with “The Love Parade,” “Monte Carlo” and “One Hour With You.”


July 10, 1931, The Smiling Lieutenant
July 10, 1931: “The Smiling Lieutenant” receives its Los Angeles premiere at the Carthay Circle Theater in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times said: “The Carthay Circle premieres are the only glittering gestures left to the industry in Hollywood, as it is the sole premiere theater in the cinema capital.”

I like to contrast the critical opinions of films in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, and this contrast is especially evident with “The Smiling Lieutenant.” The Los Angeles Times always comes off as the provincial country cousin compared to the New York Times.

Writing in the New York Times (May 23, 1931), Mordaunt Hall said:

Wit and melody swing through Maurice Chevalier’s latest picture, “The Smiling Lieutenant,” which is now adorning the Criterion screen. That cinematic artist, Ernst Lubitsch, supplies the rapier-like comedy and none other than Oscar Straus is responsible for the charming musical compositions….

Herr Lubitsch, in the greater part of this production, reveals himself to be once again a master of the microphone as well as of the camera. When a character walks up a long flight of stairs, his steps are accompanied by musical strains that afford laughter and when another individual uses a perfume spray in a room there are notes that are emphatically provocative.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times (July 13, 1931), Edwin Schallert said:

Some of it is in hopelessly bad taste (possibly due to  New York influences on the director) and fragmentary portions are even crude, but there is ever and anon the flash of that rare ingenuity in pointing and building the comedy touch that the director has been known by ever since the time of “The Marriage Circle.” This brilliance, at times, is marked especially in the scenes between Barbier and Miss Hopkins. (This was Hopkins’ second feature film and Barbier’s third feature – lrh).

I like this type of Lubitsch devilment. I like the elements of surprise in his humor — the sudden and appalling slaps administered by the queen and the lieutenant’s light love the one to the other. This being rough, but amusing. The director is clever, too, in his almost low-brow depiction of the pride and vanity of a small-time ruler and his inoffensive, shut-in boohooing daughter, who craves genuine admiration from a man.

I dislike utterly much of the music, especially that sung by Chevalier and Miss Colbert together, and also chiefly the cheap innuendoes, which are unworthy of the smart Lubitsch style.

Jan. 30, 2017, Mystery Photo

For Monday, we have a dashing mystery gent.

Update: This is Robert Strange.

Jan. 31, 2017, Mystery Photo

For Tuesday, we have this mystery guest….

Jan. 31, 2017, Mystery Photo

… And in a happier moment.

Update: This is Hugh O’Connell

Brain Trust roll call: Mike Hawks (mystery movie and mystery guest) and Dan Nather (mystery movie, mystery director).

Feb. 1, 2017, Mystery Photo

For Wednesday, we have this mystery lady.

Update: This is Miriam Hopkins.

Brain Trust roll call: David Inman (Tuesday’s mystery guest), Mike Hawks (Tuesday’s mystery guest) and Anne Papineau (the mystery movie’s genre, which I don’t usually give credit for, but why not?).

Feb. 2, 2017, Mystery Photo
For Thursday, we have this mystery gent.

Update: This is George Barbier.

Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie and mystery guests), Tucson Barbara (mystery movie and mystery guests), B.J. Merholz (Wednesday’s mystery woman and mystery directory), Mike Hawks (Wednesday’s mystery woman),  Floyd Thursby (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mystery woman and foreseeing Thursday’s mystery guest), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and mystery guests), David Inman (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guest), Dan Nather (Wednesday’s mystery guest), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast) and Lee Ann, Megan and Thom (Wednesday’s mystery guest).

Feb. 3, 2017, Mystery Photo

And for Friday, we have…..

Update: This is Claudette Colbert and Maurice Chevalier.

Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery guest), Tucson Barbara (Thursday’s mystery guest), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery guest), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guest) and Lee Ann, Megan and Thom (mystery movie, Tuesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests).

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

  1. tucsonbarbara says:

    1930s version of “Prisoner of Zenda” ?


  2. Dewey webb says:

    Douglas Dumbrille


  3. Mike Hawks says:

    Robert Strange in THE SMILING LIEUTENANT.


  4. Dan Nather says:

    Looks like something directed by Ernst Lubitsch. I’m guessing THE SMILING LIEUTENANT . . .


  5. Floyd Thursby says:

    Herbert Evans in “Reunion In Vienna”?


  6. Don Danard says:

    Just a guess ……….. Hooper Atchley.


  7. mandymarie20 says:

    I know it’s too easy a guess for a Monday photo, but looks similar to an older John Barrymore.


  8. David Inman says:

    Hugh O’Connell today.


  9. Mike Hawks says:

    Hugh O’Connell.


  10. Anne Papineau says:

    Safe to say … A Ruritanian romance


  11. Mary Mallory says:

    THE SMILING LIEUTENANT. Robert Strange Monday, Hugh O’Connell yesterday, and Miriam Hopkins today.


  12. tucsonbarbara says:

    The Smiling Lieutenant

    Robert Strange, Hugh O’Connell, Miriam Hopkins


  13. B.J.Merholz says:

    Miriam Hopkins; probably an early Lubitsch film.


  14. Mike Hawks says:

    Miriam Hopkins.


  15. Floyd Thursby says:

    How could Miriam Hopkins ever qualify as a “mystery lady”? This is her in Ernst Lubitsch’s “The Smiling Lieutenant.” Lookng forward to seeing George Barbier.


  16. Monday: Robert Strange in THE SMILING LIEUTENANT
    Tuesday: Hugh O’Connell
    Wednesday: Miriam Hopkins (before she jazzed up her lingerie)


  17. David Inman says:

    Miriam Hopkins today, making this “The Smiling Lieutenant.”


  18. Dan Nather says:

    Miriam Hopkins on Wedneday.


  19. LC says:

    This would be The Smiling Lieutenant w/Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, Miriam Hopkins, Hugh O’Connell, Cornelius MacSunday…


  20. Lee Ann, Megan, and Thom says:

    Miriam Hopkins for Wednesday. I can’t remember the name for Tuesday’s guest right now.


  21. Mary Mallory says:

    Good old George Barbier today.


  22. tucsonbarbara says:

    George Barbier


  23. Mike Hawks says:

    George Barbier.


  24. Lee Ann, Megan, and Thom says:

    George Barbier in The Smiling Lieutenant for today. Hugh O’Connell for Tuesday.


  25. Mary Mallory says:

    Claudette Colbert with Mr. Suave Maurice Chevalier.


  26. Don Danard says:

    Claudette Colbert and Maurice Chevalier today.


  27. Mike Hawks says:

    Claudette and Maurice get chummy.


  28. tucsonbarbara says:

    Claudette Colbert and Maurice Chevalier


  29. Benito says:

    Maurice Chevalier, thanking heaven for little girls


  30. Dan Nather says:

    George Barbier on Thursday, and the best reasons for watching THE SMILING LIEUTENANT, Maurice Chevalier and Claudette Colbert, today.


  31. Anne Papineau says:

    Smiling. Lieutenant.


  32. Dewey webb says:

    The Smiling Lieutanant


  33. beachgal says:

    Wed is Miriam Hopkins.


  34. beachgal says:

    Monday is Charlie Ruggles


  35. Howard Decker says:

    Aaargh. I just hate to figure out whut the flicker is on Friday. But it’s the Smiling Lieutenant from 1931 and Friday’s coupe are Claudette Colbert and Maurice Chevalier. I knew I knew Wednesday’s gal but couldn’t quite get it — it’s Miriam Hopkins, of course. Better late then never, I guess.


  36. Rogét-L.A. says:

    Friday: Claudette Colbert and Maurice Chevalier in The Smiling Lieutenant (1931)


  37. Scott Lord says:

    Smiling Lieutenant (Lubitsch, 1931) ?


  38. Scott Lord, student for an online society says:

    Smiling Lieutenant (Lubitsch, 1931) ?


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