The Wildcat

The Wildcat ★★★★★

A seriously unhinged movie. The majority of shots are framed in decorative cut-outs. Everyone looks slightly (or much more than slightly) insane. Pola Negri gives an endlessly GIF-able performance, and I want to go back in time and hang out with her and be her friend. This is usually described as a satire on militarization, but, honestly, it's way too off-the-rails to be constrained by any one meaning. Bandits. Skulls. Wild mustaches. Sex. Proto-psychedelic sets. (The sets are actually like cartoonized versions of German Expressionist sets.) A dream sequence featuring a band of slightly horrifying marshmallow men. (They're actually supposed to be snowmen, but whatever.)

I imagine this movie would come as a shock to anyone who only knows through his Hollywood comedies. The ones we talk about when we talk about The Lubitsch Touch. Those are invariably described as "sophisticated." The Wildcat is not sophisticated. Not to say that Lubitsch didn't know what he was doing; just that he was experimenting, breaking rules, going crazy, pushing the weirdness of expressionism into the realm of outrageous comedy.

Peter Bogdanovich apparently considers this one of the five funniest movies he's ever seen. I think I might have to agree. (Though even just as far as Lubitsch's silent comedies go, it would be hard to choose between this and The Doll.)