Design for Living

Three expatriate Americans in Paris—a struggling painter (Gary Cooper), an unpublished playwright (Fredric March), and their self-appointed critic and muse (Miriam Hopkins)—resolve to establish a platonic garret dedicated to art. But a dusty couch calls, and soon the lady is switching with casual promiscuity from one friend to the other. The ménage à trois has its complications, to be sure (the men “love” each other, too), but they have nothing to do with virtue. “Don't let's be delicate, let's be crude and objectionable,” says Hopkins (who could never be any of those things) to Edward Everett Horton (who, as a representative of propriety, is all three). This is one of Lubitsch's most underrated films, perhaps for the sin of adapting Noel Coward's play to film's requirements (big stars) and Lubitsch's obsession—sets that speak louder than dialogue. The crowded garret is a Borzagean heaven, the outsized world of success a muse's idea of hell.
—Judy Bloch

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