Combustible Celluloid
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With: Pola Negri, Victor Janson, Paul Heidemann, Wilhelm Diegelmann, Hermann Thimig, Edith Meller, Marga K�hler, Paul Graetz, Max Gronert, Erwin Kopp, Paul Biensfeldt
Written by: Ernst Lubitsch, Hanns Kräly
Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 82
Date: 04/14/1921

The Wildcat (1921)

4 Stars (out of 4)

The Way We Purr

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Ernst Lubitsch's The Wildcat (1921) is a masterpiece that ranks with the director's greatest work. In it, a young lieutenant, a relentless lover of many women, travels to a new assignment at a remote fort. On the way, bandits descend upon him and the daughter of the bandit leader (Pola Negri) falls madly for him. Unfortunately, the captain's daughter also has fallen for him. Lubitsch's unique style and timing snapped securely into place with this film, and his presence is unmistakable. The opening scenes alone, with a group of soldiers roused from bed for duty, shows an uncanny feel for onscreen space, rhythm and cutting. Lubitsch also deliberately spoofs Griffith with his hilarious use of frame masking. Rather than using a circle or a couple of lines to block out the frame and direct attention to one spot, he uses globs, stars, zigzags and other weird shapes. (See also: Lubitsch in Berlin.)

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