The Thinking Machine 8


Adrian Martin and Cristina Álvarez López reflect on the art of filmmaking in monthly video essays.

Ernst Lubitsch’s Cluny Brown (1946) is a masterpiece. Renowned for the constant inventiveness he demanded of himself and his collaborators, Lubitsch rarely plotted a scene according to conventional rules. Seventy minutes in, Cluny (Jennifer Jones) attends the polite social gathering that will announce her engagement to the very proper Jonathan (Richard Haydn). But the “plumbing” – both the noisy pipes of the bathroom, and every associated bodily function – interrupts the formality of the occasion. How does Lubitsch align our sympathies and judgements with everything that most vitally matters?