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Oyster Princess, The
(Austernprinzessin, Die)

Made during the most prolific year of Lubitsch’s career while still in Germany, THE OYSTER PRINCESS marked a new direction for the director’s work in comedy – away from slapstick and toward a more sophisticated form of satire. The narrative lampoons the American nouveaux riche who, for all their wealth, are still uncouth and uncultured. This comedy of manners is a farce about Americans trying to become members of European royalty. In the film he depicts a world in which everyone consumes to excess. The famous Lubitsch trademark (action we can't see behind closed doors) occurs in the movie as the father tries to observe the wedding night of his daughter through a keyhole. After the success of The Oyster Princess (the UFA officials could not make enough prints to keep up with demand), Lubitsch directed Madame Dubarry, one of the films responsible for breaking the American blockade on imported German films after World War I, beginning the 'invasion' of Hollywood by German talent.

Critics generally associate Lubitsch with the traits of sparkling dialogue, interesting plots, witty and sophisticated characters, and an air of urbanity, all part of the Lubitsch touch. Andrew Sarris comments that the 'touch is a counterpoint of poignant sadness during a film's gayest moments.'

The target of Lubitsch’s humor is the American bourgeoisie, personified by a wealthy businessman, the “oyster king,” who is ensconced in a European villa filled with servants and assistants. Material wealth, however, is insufficient to satisfy the ambitions of these Americans, and the businessman’s daughter, having read of the marriage of the “shoe-polish princess” to a nobleman, begs her father to buy her a prince. The ensuing tale manages to wring humor from both the boundless hubris of the Americans and the haughty attitudes of a European aristocracy now fallen on hard times.


Karl-Ernst Sasse

  small orchestra (16 - 45 Musicians)    
stafflist – – 4perc.pno. – strings (min.